Solar-Powered UAS Has the Power of 250 Cell Towers, Demonstrates Stratosphere Connectivity

Statistics show that billions of people in the world have no connectivity, but a recent technological development is ready to fix that. High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) are unmanned vehicles that act as satellites, providing consistent communications in the most unconnected areas of the world, without additional infrastructure. Airbus’ Zephyr S claims to be the best of its kind, already a multiple record-breaker.
Zephyr could revolutionize worldwide connectivity, through its ability to provide consistent communications from the stratosphere 6 photos
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Zephyr is a solar-electric, stratospheric, unmanned aerial system (UAS) that can enable 4G/5G connectivity day and night in various weather conditions and challenging locations. According to Airbus, it’s the only HAPS with a proven day/night consistency in the stratosphere, able to fly for months.

With a wingspan of 82 feet (25 meters) and weighing less than 165 lbs (75 kg), Zephyr broke an endurance record in 2018, when it flew for 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes without refueling. In the most recent test, the UAS successfully demonstrated the ability to deliver connectivity directly to smartphones. The demonstration was carried out by Airbus and the Japanese company NTT DOCOMO in the U.S.

Throughout 18 days, the Zephyr S flew at various altitudes, at day and at night, in different weather conditions. The two companies wanted to verify the connection stability between the aircraft's radio equipment and the ground-based antenna. The demonstration confirmed the successful use of the 2GHz spectrum and the narrow 450MHz band in a range of up to 87 miles (140 km).

The HAPS proved that it can effectively provide communications from the stratosphere to smartphones. The goal of the partnership between Airbus and NTT DOCOMO is to eventually provide connectivity to mountain areas, islands, and remote maritime areas, by advancing 5G and even paving the way for 6G.

Considering that a single Zephyr equals the coverage of 250 cell towers, this clean energy HAPS could be the answer for future worldwide connectivity.

press release

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