Dirigibles (blimps) as an alternative urban transport system

Dirigibles (blimps) as an alternative urban transport system


Many people and many cars have made Bogota a chaotic and polluted city. Most working families live in the south of the city and traffic affects the quality of family time. We believe it is necessary to generate clean solutions that improve mobility.

Tes Idées

Bogotá is a chaotic and polluted city. We believe it is necessary to generate clean transport solutions that improve mobility.

The process began with brainstorming with the participation of several of the school's courses. Although many ideas related to road safety and sustainable mobility came up, the issue of public transportation is not only the most urgent of Bogotá's problems but the one that most affects the school environment.

  • Bogota is a city that has grown a lot in the last 10 years. This situation has been recorded by DANE (National Administrative Department of Statistics). According to their data, during that period, the population increased by more than 1,500.00 people; today we are a little more than 8million. But worse is the vehicle increase from 600,000 to close to more than 1,800,000.
  • Bogotá has been classified several times as the worst Latin American capital in mobility issues according to the WAZE application. The current city administration bets only on the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), while other Latin capitals like Peru, Lima, Panama or San Salvador already have one, two or more subway lines.
  • A study by Professor Rodrigo Jiménez (1) found that one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution in Bogotá has been increased by particulate matter, the technical name is re-suspension; another study carried out by the National University (2) shows that the vehicles that most contribute to this type of pollution are those working with DIESEL, precisely the ones that have increased the most with the BRT public transport system in Bogotá.
  • In addition to pollution, the inefficiency of our public transportation affects our families' health. It has also been detected that overcrowding alters the behavior of citizens, who have to push themselves on buses unbearably full for up to two hours a day, significantly affecting quality time with their families, while stress manifests itself physically and lowers the defenses allowing for bacteria, viruses and diseases that abound at peak hours to spread among the population (3). It is not a minor problem (4), according to the University Manuela Beltrán.
  • Ours is a public school in the south of the city, this is a sector where the vast majority of working families live... our families. All students inhabit this area which means that our parents must cross the city to get to their jobs because the industrial and commercial areas are in the center and the north. The south of the city is an immense area, home to about 50% of the entire population of Bogotá.
  • After several brainstorms with students from different levels of the school, we asked our research question: What efficient and environmentally friendly public transportation solution can be proposed to improve quality of life indicators?

Tes initiatives

When trying to develop the initiatives, the first thing is to give free rein to the imagination, a phase in which very varied ideas often arise; the next step is to reduce those ideas to just a few, based on the research. Thus, first was identifying the characteristics of our environment in relation to transportation: the towns of the south of the city are mountainous, which means that just leaving the area is quite difficult; this despite the fact that there are 4 BRT portals and there is one projected for an aerial cable, which are like great stations from which buses are distributed for short routes in the south of the city (see attached presentation) and for longer routes towards the center and north of the city. In addition to vehicular congestion because of so many cars on the tracks, intersections are often sources of traffic jams.
The investigation led us to two transport models developed in Medellín (Colombia), a city that, in contrast to Bogota, has built several successful mobility solutions. For mountain areas, aerial cables pass cabins carrying people above the mountains from the communes to the rest of the city (see presentation), and traffics jams are reduced drastically with the elevated metro. Both use electrical systems which improve the indicators of particulate material. Both systems suggest that the solution should be above as well as electrical or operating with alternative energies.

The problem is that the infrastructure of the towers that support the high systems of both metro and cable are very expensive and ours is a third world country that must seek efficient but economic solutions. Thus arose the idea of blimps that do not need towers that would support the tracks and could use the existing BRT portals by making modifications that would be comparatively cheaper. When we started the research we came across the disaster of the Hindenburg (1937), but we quickly learned that it had to do with hydrogen as a lift gas. However, now Helium is used, which is an inert gas with greater capacity.
In terms of energy, research has shown that solar panels have already been developed to be highly efficient and we even found a model of a small airship using these panels (5), which could be used to charge the batteries which would get the necessary boost to electric motors.
Of course, one of the interesting questions is the load capacity, and from what we could find, those which use Helium can load 20,000 kg. Latin people, we are medium-sized people, so assuming that on average a person is 70 kg, an airship can carry up to 285 people.

We worked by distributing tasks, the images show the process and the fulfillment of the goals that started by encouraging the student community to analyze and propose solutions in relation to the transportation problems of the community, to make a model prototype that included both the station and the dirigible, that allowed us to expose the idea, and repeat the campaign seeking to collect impressions, ideas and questions; all with the intention of further improving the idea and socializing it.

Autres initiatives en/au/à Colombie