Uncrewed Systems Technology 051 l Primoco One 150 l Power management l Ocius Bluebottle USV l Steel E-Motive robotaxi l UAVs insight l Xponential 2023 p Issue 51 Aug/Sept 2023 art 2 l Aant Farm TPR72 l Servos l Tampa Deep Sea Barracuda AUV

UAVs | Insight company was further rebranded as AALTO HAPS (AALTO signifying Airbus, ALTitiude, and zerO emissions). “Bridging the gap between, say, Starlink or other LEO satellite solutions and terrestrial solutions is now viable, as we’ve proven through our long-running Zephyr flight testing programme that allows unmodified handheld devices and ground vehicles to connect directly to HAPS aircraft,” explains Richard Tyler, head of flight crew training at AALTO. In terms of further r&d, the company is now focused on optimising the platform rather than needing any further proving of its commercial potential. Its present incarnation is known internally as the Zephyr 8B, a 25 m-wingspan aircraft weighing between 65 and 75 kg. Its solar energy comes from triplejunction InGaAs cells manufactured by Microlink Devices, with that energy being stored in batteries supplied by Amprius and converted into forward propulsion via electric motors produced by Newcastle University, in the UK. Further testing will benchmark its altitude limit – which is currently 75,000 ft – and its endurance, which is expected to exceed 200 days. “And by the end of this year we’ll have the Zephyr 8C, which will take the Zephyr 8B’s technologies and slightly redesign or repackage them into a production-ready aircraft, with some further capabilities to be determined,” Tyler adds. “Beyond that we’ll look further into maturing and offering the Zephyr T or Zephyr 9, the twin-tail version we have talked about for many years, and for which we’re aiming to achieve more year-round persistent flight capability. We’ll also work on increasing its payload capacity, with that being the first priority, and then freeing up more volume and power for payloads afterwards.” At the time of writing, the 8B’s altitude ceiling was limited only by flight testing requirements, with expectations in the company that it should be capable of flying far higher. Higher flight tests through expansion of the company’s flight crew and clearances will enable greater understanding of stratospheric conditions and phenomena above 75,000 ft. “In mid-2022 we had around 75 employees; now we’re over 150 and hope to have 200 by the end of 2023,” Tyler adds. “We have an emphasis on bringing in engineers to further the Zephyr’s development and widening our skills in providing network solutions, as well as growing our line maintenance and flight operations teams.” Persistent surveys Skydweller Aero also has its eyes set on solar-powered flight, albeit via a distinctly different route to AALTO’s. Rather than begin with a clean-sheet design, Skydweller has bought the design of the Solar Impulse 2 crewed aircraft and is iterating the system with the primary aim of creating an uncrewed HAPS platform capable of perpetual flight in order to provide services such as persistent geospatial survey, exclusive economic zone monitoring, or nonterrestrial telecoms services. Skydweller’s platform has Is your job search lacking focus? Frustrated at looking for autonomous and robotics related engineering vacancies on generic job boards? Visit www.uncrewedengineeringjobs.com for a clearer view of what’s on offer. After many years of testing and maturing, the Zephyr is being commercialised for persistent comms, relaying and other services from the stratosphere (Courtesy of Airbus)