A Telecom Solution Launches Autonomous Craft into Our Atmosphere. Skynet Anyone?

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A Telecom Solution Launches Autonomous Craft into Our Atmosphere. Skynet Anyone?
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This is the sort of comment I overheard while heading to work one day. I pulled my phone out and Googled HAPS Mobile. OMG! Aside from the fact that these guys are coming in with a telecommunications system that […]


This is the sort of comment I overheard while heading to work one day. I pulled my phone out and Googled HAPS Mobile. OMG! Aside from the fact that these guys are coming in with a telecommunications system that is just so much better than any other we have around, NASA, yes that NASA, allows the use of their testing facilities in the pursuit of perfecting what has come to be known as the HAWK30 or Sunglider.

HAPS stands for High Altitude Platform System. But to explain how it works, we first need to get an understanding of what it is we’re looking at and then we’ll dive into the entire system as a whole. This glider looking vehicle isn’t really a glider, but rather an unmanned aircraft meant to travel around in our stratosphere to offer interference-free telecommunications.

But that’s not so simple. As we know objects in the stratosphere are still governed by mostly the same laws of gravity as the rest of the earth, unlike satellites in space. So this requires a propulsion system to keep the craft at operational altitudes. And one capable of being utilized for long periods of time, otherwise the aircraft would just have to come back down to earth to refuel.

To handle this aspect of this system, the Sunglider is fit with a solar propulsion drive, meaning its fueled by the sun. Non-stop 24/7. Having a cruising altitude above our earthly cloud formations, she’s able to take in all the sun she wants, to keep her systems flowing for several months. Wait what!? That’s right. An autonomy of months for this unmanned system.

The aircraft itself has a 256-foot (78m) wingspan and cruises at a speed of 68 mph(110kph). Such a low cruising speed it the result of design but also the level of interference when cruising the stratosphere. Using a lithium ion battery system and ten propellors to keep her moving at 12 miles (20km) above the ground.

But she’s got to do more than just fly. She has to also carry a huge payload of hardware and software to successfully do what she's meant to. We don’t have too many specifics as to what sort of communications hardware the Sungliders will be carrying, we just know that being above ground, terrestrial interference is no longer an issue, and will also help to expand 5G networking. You can be in between mountain ranges and still call your mother to say hello.

Recently, HAPS has successfully completed a test flight where the Sunglider’s ability to change speed in flight and make steep turns were points of focus. But it’s ability to continue functioning in case of interrupted communications with Ground Control Systems also passed this test.

About the success of the test flight President and CEO of HAPS, Junichi Miyakawa adds the following, “Based on our experience and learnings from these basic tests, I feel there are even greater possibilities for the HAPS business. We’ll continue to work toward our ultimate goal of bridging the world’s digital divide and revolutionizing mobile connectivity by leveraging the HAPS platform.”

It’s happening folks. SkyNet is happening. Just kidding. That's a movie and this is life. No killer robots round here. Not yet anyway.


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