Ezer Lichtenstein of ITP made an autonomous blimp called the Robot Tourist that can sense its surroundings and take photos of the landscape it flies over. This was accomplished using a Link Sprite camera, a microSD Arduino shield, and an Arduino Uno.
From Ezer’s site:
My initial intention in creating this was to make something that you could set forth in the world and pretty much forget about, and then after some period of time (hours, days, weeks) this thing would come back to you or you’d search it out and you would be able to see all it’s little adventures. Maybe if you built enough of these, you could ‘crowd’ source any sort of large scale data collection job. For instance if you wanted to catalogue the beds of large lakes or the inside of caves or cloud formations. You could also have it just catalogue wildlife in remote areas. Or take one more step toward singularity.
The blimp made its tethered maiden voyage in Brooklyn and snapped a few shots of the landscape below. The blimp is equipped with solar panels, but it will take further testing to determine whether these can be a sustainable power source.