They are called PAHs (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite). These high-altitude drones are currently studied by Google and Facebook to provide Internet access in geographic areas with no telecoms infrastructure.
For the time being, it is the HAPS Zephyr 7 Airbus Defence & Space which is illustrated with a flight of 23 hours and 47 minutes done in Dubai. A flight time during which he reached the altitude of 61,500 feet (18,000 m), well above the air traffic. A prelude before the Google drones flights planned for October 6 at New Mexico.
Looking for the perpetual flight
Originally developed by Qinetiq Zephyr UAV was acquired by EADS, today Airbus Defence & Space. July 23, 2010, the Zephyr had made a record flight of 336 hours and 21 minutes. A good performance for the fragile solar device that overshadow the flight of 30 hours and 24 minutes of the Northrop Grumman RQ – 4 A Global Hawk in the dustbin of the history of aviation. Ultra-lightweight, the HAPS relies on the Sun to charge its batteries during the day and keep the air losing as slowly as possible altitude until the morning and reassemble with the first rays of Sun. A difficult equation between the effectiveness of its photovoltaic cells placed on its wings and the performance of its batteries. Airbus DS develops its UAV for various tasks, including the market of aerial imagery or that of telecom access to price broken from the geostationary satellite.
For Facebook as for Google, the number 1 of the PAHs application, it is of course the Internet access and thus drain new users to their services. Facebook who wanted to afford Titan Aerospace was chiper constructor drones Solara by Google. Facebook has not abandoned the HAPS track since the social network offered a British startup Ascenta.
For its part, Google is preparing a test its drones over the desert of New Mexico from October 6. Titan Aerospace estimated that its solar drones will fly 5 years without having to ask. Google will be able to check if this ambition is excessive or plausible.
“UAE/Airbus HAPS First Flight”, UASVision, September 26, 2014
Google Wants to Test UAS Internet Access in New Mexico”, UASvision, September 18, 2014
“Zephyr Solar UAV Operates 11 Days in Winter Conditions”, DefenceNews, August 28, 2014
“Après Facebook, Google rachète à son tour un fabricant de drones”, LeMonde/Silicon2.0, April 15, 2014