Portugal-based startup Quarkson has tested its long-awaited unmanned drone Skyorbiter that is designed to provide Internet access to remote and inaccessible areas in the world at 100 times cheaper than the current spectrum based Internet, giving a tougher challenge to Google’s balloon-based experiment or Facebook’s drone-based trials in the segment.
The tested Skyorbiter LA65, weighing 120 kg, has a wingspan of 65 metres, fly for 6 weeks and can cover signal range of more than 128,495 km. Quarkson has been developing the solar-powered drones for use to make available high-speed, low latency Skyorbiter drones to redeem the objective of “Internet for All”.
The company said the drone was successfully tested on April 2. It flew at an altitude of 100 metres within the line of sight from the ground control and relayed a Wi-Fi signal to them successfully, it said. Speaking to the media after the test, Quarkson founder and CEO Miguel Ângelo said the drone was developed to “make available high speed, low latency SkyOrbiter powered internet to every person on Earth”
Quarkson hopes to make the platform to hover at heights of 22,000 km over an area for a week, month, or even year-long mission and recall the aircraft for maintenance on ground if required. With its highly resourceful solar panels and battery technology, the company foresees dramatic reduction in cost for access to the Internet.
The drone is equipped with a patch antenna and a Wi-Fi-transmitter to relay signals to users on the ground and a bigger sized drone is likely to have a wingspan of 5 metres.
Along with the traditional and licensed spectrum-based telecom service providers (TSP) of Internet, Quarkson’s unlicensed platform with LTE or WiFi with Quarkson’s drone will become feasible possibly by next decade, making the world wide web a reality throughout the planet, said the company.
With a high-endurance aerial system to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is estimated to be over 100 times less expensive than terrestrial communications network deployment. Unlike conventional satellites, when broken or worn out, Skyorbiter can be brought down for maintenance or upgrade.
Quarkson is planning to participate at the “Castelo Branco Maiden Flight SkyOrbiter Constellation Challenge” in Portugal on April 30 to showcase its Skyorbiter and also go for the Las Vegas Hardware Show on May 5.
Unconfirmed reports, however, said Quarkson has built its larger SkyOrbiter LA25 with a wingspan of 22 metres though they were not tested. With enormous energy and autopilot, these drones are designed to transmit rays via Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G or 2G or via a carrier on the licensed spectrum or via Long-Term Evolution (LTE) or Wi-Fi on the unlicensed spectrum, said some reports.