AeroVironment-SoftBank JV to Focus on High-Altitude, Long-Endurance UAS Development

Unmanned aircraft systems maker AeroVironment and Japan-based telecommunications company SoftBank have formed a joint venture to build a high-altitude, long-endurance UAS for commercial operations.

HAPSMobile is 95 percent owned by SoftBank and 5 percent owned by AeroVironment, the latter company said Wednesday.

AeroVironment will contribute $5 million in capital to secure 5 percent ownership of the joint venture, with the option to increase its stake in HAPSMobile to up to 19 percent.

HAPSMobile looks to invest $65 million in the development of a solar-powered HALE UAS, an unmanned aircraft category that is also called high-altitude pseudo-satellites or HAPS.

AeroVironment CEO Wahid Nawabi said that the HALE UAS will work to deliver remote sensing and last mile internet of things connectivity to organizations.

HAPSMobile will own the UAS intellectual property and gain exclusive rights for commercial applications worldwide and non-commercial applications in Japan, while AeroVironment will possess exclusive rights to intellectual property for non-commercial uses, except in Japan.

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