Picturing yourself at the 2022 World Cup, surrounded by Qatar’s (as-yet-to-be-built) state-of-the-art stadium sounds like a soccer-fan’s dream, but there’s one problem: In the summer, when the event is traditionally held, this desert country’s temperatures can easily top 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hard to enjoy soccer when you’re suffering a heat stroke, which is why engineers are developing a flying-saucer-like carbon-fiber cloud that will float above soccer-eyed spectators and automatically reposition itself to block the sun, cooling them from the sizzling heat.
As Saud Ghani, head of Qatar University’s Mechanical and Industrial Engineering group, told CNN, this giant iPhone-shaped robotic cloud could potentially drop temperatures by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It does this by shielding the pitch from sunlight (a simple-enough concept). So how does it stay aloft, and stay in the right place to block the sun?