Exploration of the rain forest canopy using airships and similar aerial platforms
The next dendronautics project planned will involve the reflight of an improved version of the (two person) White Diamond dirigible over tropical rain forest - to gather flora samples. The dirigible will be fitted with an improved propeller-electric motor system, see sketch below.
Computer Aided Drawing of White Diamond dirigible (see achievements to date), 2003
In the future, the existing envelope may be replaced with a more streamlined envelope of about 777 cubic metres capacity. This version would be capable of 7m/s and 6 hours endurance. Power would be supplied by a mix of lithium ion batteries and generators.
Computer aided drawing of "D-7" (777 cubic metres), flight 2007/8
It is also planned to test an improved version of a smaller (one person) CMU (Canopy Manoeuvring Unit), that was built in 2004, see below.
Computer Aided Drawing of CMU, drawn 2003, not yet tested
Future dendronautical craft might include some (or combinations of) the following:
1) Craft and devices that effectively climb trees, or even jump between trees or branches: biomimetic leapers and brachiators. See, e.g., http://www.newscientist.com/blog/technology/2006/03/tree-climbing-robot.html
2) Craft or devices that use rope systems to pull loads between trees or branches. See, e.g., Treebot http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3340057.stm
3) Craft that can fly under (or through) the canopy: such as heavier-than-air micro-air vehicles: propeller powered, or biomimetic flappers.
4) Craft that use lighter-than-air (LTA) gases to provide lift to float in or immediately above the canopy. As well as free-flight, the idea of LTA craft effectively walking across the canopy may even be possible!
D-6 "White Diamond" addition of large propellers
Concept with "Treelegs": is this feasible!?