The internet has become a critical means of communication during humanitarian crises and a crucial everyday tool
for people around the world. Now, a Portuguese company wants to make sure everyone has access to it. Quarkson
plans to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to transmit internet access, to every corner of the world.
The SkyOrbiter fl eet comprises six different low-altitude models and three high-altitude models. The most basic
SkyOrbiter is the LA25. It is designed for commercial and government use and is able to provide connectivity to
areas where none is available. Unlike the low-altitude models, the high altitude UAVs orbit at 22,000 m (72,000 ft) and can stay in orbit for years as opposed to weeks. The most advanced of the high-altitude models, the HA75,
has a wingspan of around 75 m (246 ft) and a range of up to 5,000,000 km (3,000,000 mi) or fi ve years.
The low-altitude SkyOrbiters series will be powered primarily by fossil fuel based technology. According to Quarkson this will provide the best performance in terms of endurance. The high altitude SkyOrbiters, however, will be powered more similarly to the aforementioned Solara, with a solar array on its wings and body parts.
Quarkson says that the SkyOrbiters can accommodate different weights and types of payload depending on what
data may need to be collected. The UAVs can be used for a variety of purposes in addition to providing internet
access, including aerial imaging, security and military applications, environmental monitoring and in agriculture.