SoftBank Corp. announced the launch of a high-altitude platform station (HAPS) business through HAPSMobile, a joint venture between SoftBank and U.S.-based company AeroVironment. With the aim of constructing a HAPS system that delivers telecommunications network connectivity from the sky for a global business, HAPSMobile developed Hawk 30. Hawk 30, an unmanned aircraft for stratospheric telecommunications, is a platform system that flies at altitudes of approximately 20 km (12 mi).
HAPS refers to systems where unmanned objects such as aircraft flying in the stratosphere can be operated like telecommunication base stations to deliver connectivity across wide areas. By using HAPS, SoftBank says it will be able to build stable Internet connection environments at locations unserved by telecommunication networks, such as mountainous terrain, remote islands, and developing countries. SoftBank adds that by efficiently interconnecting with current telecommunication networks, it will be able to realize wide-area connectivity that spans both the sky and the ground to enable drone utilization, as well as contribute to the adoption of IoT and 5G. Since HAPS can provide stable telecommunications networks without being affected by situations on the ground, the technology is also expected to help assist rescue and recovery efforts during times of disasters.