A Portuguese startup that aims to use solar-powered drones to provide wireless internet access to offline areas of the world claims to have successfully completed its maiden test flight.
The company Quarkson plans to use the SkyOrbiter drones that will stay airborne for weeks, months or even years at a time and will fly at altitudes of up to 22,000 metres.
The test flight took place on April 2 at an undisclosed location, ‘Gizmag’ reported.
The drone was equipped with Wi-Fi-transmitting equipment that can provide internet access to local users on the ground via a patch antenna that receives the signal.
The drone tested was a small version of those planned for eventual use with a wingspan of 5 metres. It was flown within line of sight up to an altitude of 100 metres and successfully relayed a Wi-Fi signal to the ground.
One of Quarkson’s larger SkyOrbiter LA25 drones with a wingspan of 22 metres has reportedly already been built but could not be tested yet.
The drones are designed to be fully autonomous with an energy management system, autopilot and ground control software and long range communications working on different frequencies.
They will be capable of transmitting via Long-Term Evolution (LTE) or W-iFi on the unlicensed spectrum or via Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G or 2G via a carrier on the licensed spectrum, Quarkson said.