SoftBank, the parent organization of HAPSMobile, has purchased around 200 patents and patents filed from Loon, a stratospheric balloon maker, for high-altitude platforms. Loon is a project of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, that uses high-altitude helium balloons to deliver high-speed internet to rural locations. It was decommissioned in January.
HAPSMobile is a collaborative venture between the SoftBank of Japan, a telecommunications corporation, and Aerovironment, which is developing and flight testing a solar-propelled high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS), an electric-propelled flying wing UAV (unmanned air vehicle) with the solar panels on its topside.
SoftBank didn’t say whose patents it bought from Loon, only that was “connected to network technology, services, operations, and aircraft for HAPS.” HAPSMobile’s Sunglider UAV transmitted a portion of Loon and HAPSMobile’s jointly built Long-Term Evolution (LTE) broadband gear in 2020.
The Sunglider is meant to fly at a height of around 65,000 feet, which is considered the stratosphere. The flying wing, which spans 80 meters (262 feet), is designed to stay in the air for several months. According to HAPSMobile, the UAV’s endurance could allow it to serve as the telecommunications pseudo-satellite for rural places lacking access. According to HAPSMobile, the Sunglider’s broadband transmission coverage on Earth is 124 miles (200 kilometers) in diameter.
Pseudo-satellites for telecommunications are still a revolutionary idea that has yet to be commercialized. SoftBank and HAPSMobile intend to be using their intellectual properties to promote industry standardization and interoperability in order to make the new technology more widely adopted. In the year 2020, HAPSMobile and Loon established the HAPS Alliance, a collection of mobile phone, telecommunications, and aerospace firms dedicated to promoting the usage of pseudo-satellites.
HAPSMobile is a SoftBank subsidiary with AeroVironment as the minority owner that plans to run High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) networks. For stratospheric telecommunications, HAPSMobile is creating the Hawk30 solar-propelled unmanned aircraft. It has a strategic partnership with Loon LLC, which is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. On 3rd January 2018, AeroVironment launched a $65 million joint venture with Japanese telecom SoftBank (95 percent) to design and build a solar-propelled, high-altitude unmanned aircraft as well as related ground control stations.
The NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center based at the Edwards AFB situated in California was awarded $791,600 in November 2018 to offer ground and range protection for the program up to 10,000 feet. The stratospheric Hawk30 was launched for the joint partnership on April 25, 2019. The commercial operations are scheduled to commence in 2023 in latitudes 30° north as well as south of the equator and will run all year. AeroVironment upped its design development expenditure to $129 million, and subsequent Hawk50 model was going to allow operations from 50 degrees south and north of the equator, covering Japan and North America.