CNN travel | Giant inflatable sails could make shipping greener

(CNN) — Sailing boats date back more than 5,000 years, when the ancient Egyptians floated up and down the Nile in wooden vessels powered by wind and oars. But when steam and diesel engines arrived and globalization increased the need for timely trade, the sails dropped.

Today, they are making a comeback as the shipping industry looks to decarbonize. But the new sails look nothing like those of the past. Tall, white and puffy, the giant inflatable sails designed by tire manufacturer Michelin more closely resemble the Michelin man — the company’s mascot — than a traditional cloth sail. Made from a flexible material that the company would not reveal, the sails can inflate or deflate at the push of a button. No crew is required to rig them, and they pivot automatically to catch the wind, equipped with sensors that measure the wind direction and speed.  —read more—