Alphabet-owned Loon, the company that had been focused on delivering internet communications to remote areas via stratospheric balloons, has completed development work on a new payload for partner HAPSMobile, a subsidiary of SoftBank that’s building high-altitude solar-powered uncrewed aircraft. The two companies jointly adapted the communications technology that enables Loon’s balloons to beam communications networks to Earth for use on HAPSMobile's drones, effectively turning them into high-flying mobile cell towers.
This is the result of a strategic partnership that the two companies announced back in April of last year, but an important step because it means that Loon’s technology will get its first functional tests on vehicles other than its balloon-based platform. The HAWK30 aircraft that HAPSMobile developed is a solar-powered electric aircraft that flies at speeds of over 100 km/h (around 60 mph) in the stratosphere (with an operating altitude of around 65,000 feet), which is much faster than Loon’s balloons, which meant adapting the payload to perform at these speeds.
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