Originally Posted by q`Tzal
I know it isn't real but I've been tinkering with the idea of replicating the functionality with a rigid frame and thin weatherproof fabric. My spin is to use pressurized air tubes/bladders for a rigid frame member. When pressurized high enough it would provide the same rigidity as solid supports but when deflated a properly designed fabric shell could use elastic to roll up/stow/retract.
Alas this idea needs money because the pressures probably need to be over 100psi and the scientific field of "structural pneumatics" doesn't seem to exist yet. ):
You do have RIBs and inflatable kayaks. The air does provide some structure for them.