First plane landing on s.XIX wood-made Sopot pier [Poland-RedBull]

jueves, 25 de abril de 2019


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Phoenix, a blimp-aircraft hybrid, has first test flight

press release:

A group of UK experts has successfully flown the first ever large-scale aircraft powered by variable-buoyancy propulsion. The Phoenix is designed to repeatedly transition from being lighter than air to being heavier than air so thrust is generated to propel the craft forward.

Variable-buoyancy propulsion is used in underwater remotely operated vehicles, but has never before been harnessed for large aircraft. The system means the uninhabited vehicle is self-sufficient in energy so could, in theory, be operational for an unlimited period of time, an innovation which could revolutionise the telecommunications industry.

The team behind the ultra-long endurance autonomous aircraft includes representatives from academia and industry. Andrew Rae, Professor of Engineering at the University of the Highlands and Islands Perth College UHI Campus, led the design of the aeroplane.

He explains: “The Phoenix spends half its time as a heavier-than-air aeroplane, the other as a lighter-than-air balloon. The repeated transition between these states provides the sole source of propulsion.

“The vehicle’s fuselage contains helium to allow it to ascend and also contains an air bag which inhales and compresses air to enable the craft to descend. This motion propels the aeroplane forwards and is assisted by the release of the compressed air through a rear vent.

“This system allows the Phoenix to be completely self-sufficient. The energy needed to power its pumps and valves is provided by a battery which is charged by lightweight flexible solar cells on its wings and tail.

“Vehicles based on this technology could be used as pseudo satellites and would provide a much cheaper option for telecommunication activities. Current equivalent aeroplanes are very complex and very expensive. By contrast, Phoenix is almost expendable and so provides a user with previously unavailable options.”

The prototype aeroplane, which is 15 metres long and has a wingspan of 10.5 metres, was flown successfully and repeatedly over a distance of 120 metres during indoor trials at the Drystack facility in Portsmouth in March. The test flight was the culmination of a three-year project to prove the viability of a variable-buoyancy powered aircraft.

The Phoenix team are now exploring collaborations with major manufacturers to take the technology to the next phase of development. The project has been part-funded by Innovate-UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, through the Aerospace Technology Institute.

The University of the Highlands and Islands offers a range of aircraft engineering programmes and pursues research activities across the aerospace sector and in motorsport. The Perth College UHI Dunne Aeronautical Laboratory gives students access to state-of-the-art learning and research facilities in aerodynamics, propulsion and flight. These include a large flight simulator, gas-turbine rig and wind tunnels.

more info


[video] A New Gargantuan Drone Is Ready To Beam Internet From the Sky

Apr. 25, 2019 Release
SoftBank Corp.
SoftBank Corp. Develops Aircraft That Delivers Telecommunications Connectivity from the Stratosphere New business to be launched through HAPSMobile Inc.

SoftBank Corp. (“SoftBank”) today announced the launch of a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) business through HAPSMobile Inc. (“HAPSMobile”), a joint venture between SoftBank and US-based company AeroVironment, Inc. With the aim of constructing a HAPS system that delivers telecommunications network connectivity from the sky for a global business, HAPSMobile developed “HAWK30,” an unmanned aircraft for stratospheric telecommunications platform system that flies at altitudes of approximately 20 kilometers.

HAPS refers to systems where unmanned objects such as aircraft flying in the stratosphere can be operated like telecommunication base stations to deliver connectivity across wide areas. By utilizing HAPS, SoftBank will be able to build stable Internet connection environments at locations unserved by telecommunication networks, such as mountainous terrain, remote islands and developing countries. Furthermore, by efficiently interconnecting with current telecommunication networks, SoftBank will be able to realize wide-area connectivity that spans both the sky and the ground to enable drone utilization, as well as contribute to the adoption of IoT and 5G. Since HAPS can provide stable telecommunications networks without being affected by situations on the ground, the technology is also expected to help assist rescue and recovery efforts during times of disasters.

“HAWK30”, the unmanned aircraft for stratospheric telecommunications platform developed by HAPSMobile, measures approximately 78 meters long. Powered by solar panels on its wings that house 10 propellers, “HAWK30” can fly at speeds of approximately 110 kilometers per hour on average. Since “HAWK30” flies at high altitudes above the clouds, its solar panels are continually powered by sunlight. “HAWK30” can also be flown for long periods that range up to a number of months since it takes advantage of the stratosphere's climate, which sees winds that are relatively gentle year-round.

he telecommunications network to be delivered to the ground by “HAWK30” is expected to use a system that does not interfere with the networks of terrestrial base stations. Furthermore, smooth handovers between networks provided by terrestrial base stations and by “HAWK30” will also be possible. As a result, communication disruption will not occur even when a person using a smartphone moves from a base station covered area to a “HAWK30” covered area.
With a view to providing sky-based telecommunications networks that utilize HAPS globally, HAPSMobile will conduct research and development and flight tests while coordinating with the relevant authorities in various countries and giving consideration to business-related regulations. HAPSMobile is targeting 2023 for “HAWK30” mass production and service launch.
The HAPS business is being positioned as an initiative for SoftBank's “Beyond Japan” strategy that takes insights from successful businesses from Japan to the global stage. By providing innovative services and deploying global businesses, SoftBank aims to maximize corporate value.

More info:


Alphabet’s Loon and SoftBank’s HAPSMobile Form Strategic Relationship to Advance High Altitude Network Connectivity

Press releases: 
  • Apr. 25, 2019 Release
    SoftBank Corp.
    Alphabet's Loon and SoftBank's HAPSMobile form strategic relationship to advance high altitude network connectivity HAPSMobile to Invest $125 Million in Loon

    SoftBank Corp.'s HAPSMobile and Alphabet's Loon have formed a long-term strategic relationship to advance the use of high altitude vehicles, such as balloons and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to bring connectivity to more people, places, and things worldwide. As part of the new relationship and HAPSMobile's financial and investment strategy, HAPSMobile has made a decision to invest $125 million USD in Loon. Loon has obtained the right to invest the same amount in HAPSMobile in the future. Furthermore, to strengthen the relationship, the companies are actively exploring commercial collaborations to accelerate the deployment of high altitude network connectivity solutions, with a focus on expanding mobile internet penetration, enabling internet of things (IoT) applications, and assisting in the deployment of 5G.
    Specifically, the companies have entered into formal negotiations on a number of areas of potential technical and commercial collaboration, including:
    • A wholesale business that would allow HAPSMobile to utilize Loon's fully-functioning vehicle and technology. Likewise, Loon would be able to utilize HAPSMobile's aircraft, which is currently in development, upon its completion.
    • A jointly developed communications payload that is adaptable to multiple flight vehicles and various ITU compliant frequency bands.
    • A common gateway or ground station that could be deployed globally and utilized by both Loon and HAPSMobile to provide connectivity over their respective platforms.
    • Adapting and optimizing Loon's fleet management system and temporospatial SDN for use by HAPSMobile.
    • Creating an alliance to promote the use of high altitude communications solution with regulators and officials worldwide.
    • Enabling flight vehicles from each party to connect and share the same network connectivity in the air.

    With the deployment of such technology, people will be reachable in areas where connectivity is lacking; such as mountainous terrain, remote islands, and developing countries.

    Each company brings important and complementary strengths to the table. HAPSMobile, SoftBank's subsidiary, is a joint venture with AeroVironment, Inc. HAPSMobile has completed its development of HAWK 30, its aircraft-type stratospheric telecommunications platform. SoftBank is one of Japan's telecommunication carriers and has significant experience in network planning, operations, and bringing connectivity solutions to the market.

    Loon brings technical leadership through an existing, fully-functioning high altitude vehicle and communications system that has already flown over 30 million kilometers and connected hundreds of thousands of users worldwide. In addition, Loon has nearly a decade of experience developing, launching, flying, and managing a high altitude platform.

    High altitude network connectivity platforms operate in the stratosphere, which is above ground infrastructure, but below satellites, allowing fornear ubiquitous coverage that avoids ground clutter and significant latency issues. These advantages make such vehicles a promising solution for expanding mobile coverage to those who need it as well as IoT and 5G use-cases. HAPSMobile and Loon, cooperating with strengths and technology from each party, seek to provide next generation global connectivity and revolutionize the world's mobile networks.

    Junichi Miyakawa, Representative Director & CTO of SoftBank Corp., also President & CEO of HAPSMobile Inc. said, “Building a telecommunications network in the stratosphere, which has not been utilized by humankind so far, is uncharted territory and a major challenge for SoftBank. Working with Alphabet's subsidiary Loon, I'm confident we can accelerate the path toward the realization of utilizing the stratosphere for global networks by pooling our technologies, insights and experience. Even in this current era of coming 5G services, we cannot ignore the reality that roughly half of the world's population is without Internet access. Through HAPS, we aim to eliminate the digital divide and provide people around the world with the innovative network services that they need.”

    Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said, “We see joining forces as an opportunity to develop an entire industry, one which holds the promise to bring connectivity to parts of the world no one thought possible. This is the beginning of a long-term relationship based on a shared vision for expanding connectivity to those who need it. We look forward to what the future holds.”

    Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X said, “From the very beginning, Loon's mission has been to connect the unconnected. While at X the team made incredible technical progress. We're delighted to now be cheering them on as they collaborate with SoftBank's HAPSMobile to bring the benefits of connectivity to more people around the world.”