Airships To Be Used In Battle On Drugs

They were known as Zeppelins and “blimps”, they were used as bombers in the first World War and for several decades later, they provided first-class air travel until the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. Now the application of the airship design to monitor offshore drug-smuggling and for remote sensing is being discussed at a European conference in Galway.

More than 50 experts in radio communication, optical communication and aircraft design are attending a two-day meeting at NUI Galway as part of an EU project on the development of high altitude platforms. The EU High Altitude Platforms for Communications and Other Services project involves NUI Galway researchers in applied optics.

Airships can be deployed to provide “immediate response communication networks in disaster recovery situations”, according to NUI Galway applied optics researcher Ruth Mackey.

“These platforms are also being designed for remote sensing applications – for example for crop-monitoring, traffic-surveillance or for security in areas such as monitoring the oceans for drug-smuggling activity.

“Optical wireless communication is particularly useful for transmitting large quantities of data to and from remote locations, where it is not possible – or too expensive – to lay optical fibre,” she explains.

“One of the obstacles to the technology is the adverse effect caused by propagation through the atmosphere – such as beam wander and beam spreading that can reduce signal quality.”

The researchers have already established a 3km terrestrial optical link across Galway city to measure the effects of atmospheric turbulence on optical wave propagation and other factors.

– Article from The Irish Times.



  1. Irie in Erie on

    They’ve been in Erie since 2002.They sometimes travel in pairs linked together by an arm.Scary to see at night.They block out the starry night as they pass over, and make it real simple play to call north to tell all to be on your best alert.

  2. Anonymous on

    as long as drugs are illegal it will be a cat and mouse game…
    do you think by throwing more money and big blimps in the air will stop cocaine from getting here.