Beata – The Autonomous Blimp

Beata was an autonomous blimp capable of indoor recognisance and precise aerial flight. It used an onboard flight computer capable of both autonomous and direct user input flight mode via a joystick. In autonomous mode it used ultra sonic beacons as a way to navigate along predefined waypoints. The mylar-balloon was handcrafted and the ballast was a stack of playing cards used balance the floating point. Since helium is notoriously difficult to contain, every now and then the stack of cards were used to rebalance it. Moreover, it also featured an onboard camera which would send images back to the control station.

Today its all about drones (quadcopters), but the platform developed for Beata was in all essence not that different as far as technology goes. As we quickly realized – every gram counts!

This project was carried out as a collaborative students project at as part of the autonomous agents and robotics course at Chalmers University in 2004. Kudos to my fellow students Erik, Markus and Niklas.

Introduction clip of the project

Filling up the first version of the balloon and getting accustomed to buoyancy.

Cultural disclaimer: This was made during an era of unhinged student projects so there are occasional short snippets of random music added for extra comic or studentesque effect. That said, TikTok happened so perhaps not that weird all things considered.

Showing early tests of manoeuvring the prototype in two dimensions (restricted mode, dressed up as a hover-craft)

Final exhibition and demonstration at a school, promoting STEM for the next generation engineers and researchers.

Collection of clips where things does not go entirely according to plan…

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