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Inflatable

Engineers see potential for a permanent presence above Venus (Image credit: NASA)

For decades, landing on Mars has captivated the imagination of earthlings as the obvious next step in space exploration after landing on the moon, but NASA is also looking into ways to send a manned mission to a more forbidding neighbor – Venus.  Read More

NuDown NuTech uses a hand pump to adjust insulation level

Back in 2009, Utah-based company Klymit came up with a wild idea for cold-weather clothing: replace traditional insulation with gas. Its NobleTek inflatable clothing earned plenty of attention from the outdoor and technology industries, but it never really seemed to catch on. Under the guidance of start-up NuDown, the inflatable insulation has been repackaged into a simpler form. In place of a mandatory argon gas inflator, it now uses a simple hand pump to adjust your core warmth.  Read More

Trekkayak says that its design offers better directional stability than the packraft

Built to empower new adventures, the Trekkayak lets one hike deep into the wilderness and paddle his or her way back out. Joining a market of light, portable water sports gear that includes packrafts and seatrekking backpacks, the Trekkayak is an inflatable catamaran that packs fast and light in your backpack. When you get to water's edge, you simply unpack the boat, inflate it and paddle your way back home.  Read More

The Pneumad is an inflatable portable shelter designed for the nomadic traveler

The speed and ease with which portable shelters can be erected are often two of their key attributes. One recently designed portable shelter promises to be not only quick to erect, but nigh on effortless. The Pneumad folds out from a car trailer and inflates automatically.  Read More

MIT researchers have come up with a 3D printed, soft-shelled, disembodied tentacle robot t...

Once upon a time, robots were imagined as human-like machines with a distinct body complete with head, arms, hands, feet, and legs. More recently, designers have explored the benefits of emulating other creatures and their capabilities, with robots that can fly like birds, run like cheetahs, swim like a squids or, in this case, slither like snakes. Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have come up with a single 3D printed, soft-shelled tentacle that is designed to navigate through all manner of pipes, channels, and burrows.  Read More

The Air Pakk features inflatable padding, converting quickly and easily to a travel pillow...

We first caught wind of Ryan Frayne and his rapid self-inflation technology on the back of his Air Pad mattress last year. Incorporating an innovative air flow technique, the air bed could be ready for use in a matter of seconds. Now Frayne has adapted this functionality to a multipurpose backpack with a view to bringing on-demand comfort to a variety of situations.  Read More

The LDSD test vehicle being fished from the Pacific Ocean by the Kahana recovery vessel (P...

NASA has successfully carried out the first of three airborne tests for its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a saucer shaped test vehicle which will one day be used to slow down scientific payloads entering the atmosphere of Mars. This new system of atmospheric deceleration will allow the agency to contemplate heavier, more ambitious endeavors, building towards a manned mission to the red planet.  Read More

Would built-in flotation bags have allowed the Costa Concordia to remain upright?  (Photo:...

The European Union has invested in a project designed to keep damaged ships stable and afloat by means of airbag-like balloons. It is hoped that the new system, developed under the Su Sy project, will give emergency services extra time to evacuate stricken ships, minimizing the devastating losses of life synonymous with the sinking of cruise ships such as the Costa Concordia, and the South Korean ferry Sewol, which sank earlier this year.  Read More

Inside a test dome built using the pneumatic wedge method

There probably aren't many domed concrete structures where you live, and there's a reason for that – they're difficult to build. Doing so usually requires the construction of a supporting wooden structure, that holds the concrete in place while it hardens. Now, however, a team at the Vienna University of Technology has devised a system that allows concrete shell structures to simply be "inflated" and cinched together with a steel cable.  Read More

NASA's inflatable flying saucers could help astronauts land bigger and heavier spacecraft ...

It's tough to slow down spacecraft descending through Mars' thin atmosphere at supersonic speeds, as they need to drop to a speed that allows them to land in one piece. This is why NASA is developing lightweight inflatable flying saucers that will fit around the outer rims of spacecraft such as human habitats, inflating as the habitats descend to permit a safe landing. The technology will allow astronauts to land bigger and heavier spacecraft on Mars without needing to carry massive atmospheric shields or huge amounts of extra fuel.  Read More

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