The higher you go, the more people you can reach. That is the basic concept and vision of AeroVironment's Master Design & Development Agreement with SoftBank, the Japanese telecommunications company. In 2019, we assembled the first Sunglider™, a solar-powered high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) designed to serve a 200-kilometer area from a position 20 kilometers in the atmosphere. HAPSMobile's vision is to create a network of Sungliders, reaching the billions of people worldwide who lack even basic wireless communications and provide the additional bandwidth needed to support the emerging 5G standard and the Internet of Things.
Together, a team of AeroVironment innovators pioneered the first high-altitude solar powered UAS in the 1980s. Since then, we have achieved a string of high-altitude firsts–like the Helios prototype that set the world altitude record for sustained level flight. We understand well the value of long-endurance, unmanned aircraft platforms, leading us to form a joint venture with SoftBank to create HAPSMobile Inc.–the global, next generation broadband telecommunications provider for tomorrow that will use a constellation of solar HAPS aircraft to connect people around the globe.