This massive drone beamed broadband from the sky in a key test

A HAPS Cellular broadband drone in flight

Spaceport America

Fb could have scrapped its Aquila project to beam broadband web entry down from high-altitude drones, however a Japanese enterprise referred to as HAPSMobile has reported success in testing comparable expertise. The corporate lofted an enormous solar-powered wing referred to as Sunglider as much as an altitude of 62,500 ft for a 20-hour data-beaming check flight within the stratosphere above New Mexico on Wednesday.

Utilizing cellular community expertise from Loon, the balloon-based internet access effort from Google guardian firm Alphabet, the 262-foot-wide plane hosted video calls with web pioneer Vint Cerf, amongst others. It additionally withstood robust winds, HAPSMobile said Thursday.

It is the newest instance of how self-piloting, unmanned plane can probably change many industries. Startups and established firms are creating drones to fight wars, deliver packages, monitor wildfires and ship broadband web entry, amongst different duties.

HAPSMobile is majority-owned by Japanese expertise and funding agency SoftBank, however a minority stake is from drone maker AeroVironment. Additionally concerned is the HAPS Alliance with Google, an effort to advertise the high-altitude pseudo-satellite, or HAPS, expertise, to safe radio spectrum globally, to suit into the airspace with out inflicting issues and to verify HAPS networks work effectively collectively.

The Sunglider is propelled by 10 electrical motors and is designed to fly for months at a time. It might probably carry as much as 150 kilos of payload. At elevations above 60,000 ft, or 11.three miles, it is flying above typical plane and most clouds.

The check befell at Spaceport America close to the US Military’s White Sands Missile Vary in southern New Mexico, the place the HAPSMobile team conducted a test flight in June.

HAPSMobile’s solar-powered broadband drone has spent hours within the stratosphere.


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Stephen Shankland