SoftBank and AeroVironment launch $65M solar, high-altitude, long-endurance UAS development program
Aerovironment were involved in the very early NASA efforts on high altitude solar flight with the Pathfinder, Centurion and Helios vehicles (ERAST). These vehicles demonstrated high altitude, but not long duration, solar powered flight in the 1990s and early 2000s before the programme was cancelled in 2003.
The two companies have formed a new venture – HAPSMobile – to develop systems to provide commercial services, expected to be focussed on internet connectivity.
NASA Helios flying in 2001 (Picture courtesy of NASA)