The Portuguese startup Quarkson has developed a solar-powered drone that could provide wireless internet access to people and this drone called the SkyOrbiter, has successfully completed its first test flight recently. The company intends to use these solar-powered drones to make Wi-Fi facility available to offline areas around the world.
The SkyOrbiter drones will fly at the heights of up to 22,000 meters (72,000 ft.) and stay airborne for long period of time, say for some weeks, several months or even a few years. According to a report by Gizmag, the test flight was carried out on April 2 but the location of the test flight has not been disclosed. The SkyOrbiter had Wi-Fi transmitting equipment on board to provide internet access to the people below on the ground through a patch antenna that receives the signal from the drone.
A smaller version of the drone that would be actually used was tested. This drone had a wing span of 5 meters (16 ft.) and was flown up to an altitude of 100 meters (330 ft.). It was able to successfully transmit Wi-Fi signal below to the ground, proving that the project is viable.
Quarkson has also built a largeer SkyOrbiter LA25 drone that has a wing span of 22 meters (72 ft.) but according to the company’s CEO Miguel Angelo Martins da Silva, the Portuguese government has not allowed it’s testing. Nevertheless, it was tested on a small airstrip in poor conditions and data was collected which could be helpful to optimize prototypes.
The drones are fully autonomous having an autopilot, an energy management system, ground control software and a long range communication system working on various frequencies. The drones would be able to transmit via LTE or Wi-Fi on the unlicensed spectrum or via LTE, Wi-Fi, 3G or 2G on the licensed spectrum through a carrier.
You can watch the first test flight of the SkyOrbiter drone in the video below: