HAPSMobile’s Stratospheric Test Flight Opens A New Chapter for the Internet

October 22, 2020

HAPSMobile Inc., a SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) subsidiary launched in 2017 with the mission of bridging the digital divide, marked two major milestones on September 21, 2020. First, the solar-powered, unmanned aircraft “Sunglider” took flight in the stratosphere for the first time. Second, Sunglider also successfully delivered an LTE connection from the stratosphere during the flight, marking a world first for a fixed-wing High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) autonomous aircraft.

With a communications payload under its wing, Sunglider functions like a base station floating in the sky. Circling the stratosphere above the earth, it transmits radio waves down to mobile phones on the ground. This means it can reach areas where it is difficult to build infrastructure, including remote areas and developing countries. Since it flies in the stratosphere and is therefore unaffected by weather on the ground, Sunglider can also deliver connectivity when disasters strike.

While the concept may seem far out--in fact, HAPSMobile President & CEO Junichi Miyakawa was originally inspired by the Japanese fantasy anime classic “Castle in the Sky” before launching the business--HAPSMobile’s landmark flight and communication tests have shown that it is making great progress on its mission to connect the unconnected, which now accounts for roughly half of the world’s population.

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About AeroVironment, Inc. (AV)

AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) provides technology solutions at the intersection of robotics, sensors, software analytics and connectivity that deliver more actionable intelligence so you can proceed with certainty. Celebrating 50 years of innovation, AeroVironment is a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems and tactical missile systems, and serves defense, government and commercial customers. For more information, visit www.avinc.com.


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