The sci-fi TV show Fringe often shows us an alternate, more technologically advanced version of Earth where airships are, for some reason, the norm. Now reality is mirroring fiction as a new project being developed in conjunction with the Pentagon is looking to bring airships back from their spotty past and into the future.
Developed by Aeroscraft, the 230-foot-long prototype airship called the Pelican is designed to lift up to 10 tons of cargo across long distances, using a fraction of the fuel needed by an airplane. The airship, which, interestingly, looks a lot like a flying saucer, has been in the works for several years under the guidance of the Pentagon's Rapid Reaction Technology Office. In addition to cargo missions, the Pentagon also envisions the airship as a potential tool for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The current prototype is much smaller than the final version of the airship the company plans to build which will be 450-feet long and have the ability to carry up to 66 tons of cargo. You can see footage of the Pelican being tested, as well as a presentation video depicting military uses for the airship in the videos below.
Aeroscraft, via AviationWeek