London: Gigantic balloon-like objects floating in the sky, the successors to the Zeppelins of yore, are set to revolutionise the way cargo is transported around the globe by the end of this decade.
America`s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is developing the new generation of airships, to replace lorries, trains and ships to carry freight. The first prototype is likely to make its voyage next year.
Scientists overseeing the project predict airships that carry hundreds of tonnes of cargo, will be airborne by 2020.
It comes more than 70 years after the Hindenburg disaster, which brought an end to the earlier airship era, according to the Telegraph.
Airships had been widely used in the 1920s and 1930s, but a number of accidents, including the 1937 Hindenburg disaster in New Jersey that killed 36 people, saw them lose popularity.
Simon Worden, director of the Nasa Ames Research Centre in California, said: "Currently the majority of goods are put on trucks and trains to be transported around the country.
"That is a very expensive and time consuming process. You could imagine an airship landing in a field, loading produce directly and then delivering it anywhere in the world for much cheaper than we can today. Those sorts of things look very promising," he added.
The prototype airship is being built with California-based company Aeros. The old cigar shaped Zeppelin design is being changed into a flatter and more aerodynamic shape.