Drones

SkyOrbiter internet drone completes maiden test flight

The SkyOrbiter about to take off on its maiden flight
The SkyOrbiter about to take off on its maiden flight
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Quarkson says it is ready to begin mass producing its internet-beaming SkyOrbiter drones
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Quarkson says it is ready to begin mass producing its internet-beaming SkyOrbiter drones
The SkyOrbiter drones are designed to be fully autonomous
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The SkyOrbiter drones are designed to be fully autonomous
The SkyOrbiter LA25 is designed to fly at 3,500 m (11,500 ft) for up to 2 weeks at a time
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The SkyOrbiter LA25 is designed to fly at 3,500 m (11,500 ft) for up to 2 weeks at a time
Quarkson says the SkyOrbiter drones will be capable of transmitting via LTE or W-iFi on the unlicensed spectrum or via Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G or 2G via a carrier on the licensed spectrum
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Quarkson says the SkyOrbiter drones will be capable of transmitting via LTE or W-iFi on the unlicensed spectrum or via Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G or 2G via a carrier on the licensed spectrum
The SkyOrbiter LA45 is designed to fly at 3,500 m (11,500 ft) for up to 6 weeks at a time
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The SkyOrbiter LA45 is designed to fly at 3,500 m (11,500 ft) for up to 6 weeks at a time
The SkyOrbiter HA65 is designed to fly at 22,000 m (72,000 ft) for up to 5 years at a time
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The SkyOrbiter HA65 is designed to fly at 22,000 m (72,000 ft) for up to 5 years at a time
The high altitude SkyOrbiters will be powered by a solar array on wings and body parts
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The high altitude SkyOrbiters will be powered by a solar array on wings and body parts
The SkyOrbiter drones are designed to be solar-powered
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The SkyOrbiter drones are designed to be solar-powered
The SkyOrbiter about to take off on its maiden flight
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The SkyOrbiter about to take off on its maiden flight

A Portuguese company that wants to use drones to provide internet access to offline areas of the world has completed its first test flight. Quarkson plans to use solar-powered 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 m (72,000 ft).

The test flight took place on April 2 at an undisclosed location. 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 m (16 ft). It was flown within line of sight up to an altitude of 330 ft (100 m) and successfully relayed a Wi-Fi signal to the ground. Quarkson founder and CEO Miguel Angelo Martins da Silva says the test has provided proof of the concept's viability.

One of Quarkson's larger SkyOrbiter LA25 drones with a wingspan of 22 m (72 ft) has reportedly already been built, but da Silva says it could not be tested due to opposition by the Portuguese government.

The SkyOrbiter drones are designed to be solar-powered
The SkyOrbiter drones are designed to be solar-powered

As a result, da Silva says the test was performed under poor conditions using a small airstrip. Nonetheless, he says, the team was able to retrieve telemetry and determine additional ways to optimize the prototype models.

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. Quarkson says they will be capable of transmitting via LTE or W-iFi on the unlicensed spectrum or via Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G or 2G via a carrier on the licensed spectrum.

da Silva says the organization is producing prototypes at a rate of one every 2 months, except for the SkyOrbiter LA25 that took a year to construct. He says that with the correct investment, mass production could begin within 4-6 months.

The high altitude SkyOrbiters will be powered by a solar array on wings and body parts
The high altitude SkyOrbiters will be powered by a solar array on wings and body parts

Quarkson will present its solar-powered drones to the public at the Castelo Branco Maiden Flight SkyOrbiter Constellation Challenge on April 30 and to "the world's leading tech investors" in Las Vegas on May 5, with da Silva warning that the "project can only survive if we relocate in full or partially to another country."

The video below shows the first test flight of the SkyOrbiter drone.

Source: Quarkson

Quarkson Solar Powered Internet Drones, Are Already Flying

2 comments
Stephen N Russell
Need 1K in the skies for max Internet esp in rural locales worldwide
christopher
Hmm. My own Wifi doesn't even reach from my office to my bedroom - how am I supposed to use something that's 22km+ away? None of the spectrum they mentioned travels even a fraction of that distance (and remember - this needs to be 2-ways to work). There's something really big and important that's getting left out of all these "internet aircraft" stories...
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