SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) and its subsidiary HAPSMobile—which are both working to provide stratosphere-based telecommunication platforms with a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) business—are also founding members of the HAPS Alliance, an industry association that includes telecommunications, technology, aviation, and aerospace companies and educational institutions. United by a vision to use HAPS-based solutions to connect the unconnected, the HAPS Alliance is actively working with regulatory authorities and standardization bodies to foster a HAPS ecosystem. Since the Alliance was founded in April 2020, membership has grown to over 50 companies, organizations and educational institutions as of this writing.
The HAPS Alliance Summit, a virtual event that took place on November 15-16, 2021, marked a new milestone for the Alliance with its first public conference on November 15. With over 250 people representing 17 countries registered for the event, it was clear there was a high level of interest in the HAPS industry.
In addition to a keynote from SoftBank Corp.’s Head of Advanced Technology Ryuji Wakikawa, the summit featured presentations from members and guests on various use cases, such as methane monitoring and wildfire suppression.
HAPS will be key network infrastructure in a 6G world
HAPS Alliance President Ken Riordan opened the meeting by underlining the recent progress of Alliance. “Our member companies are making great advancements in aircraft technology, telecommunication technologies and antenna capabilities,” he said. Riordan also noted that HAPS technologies need to co-exist alongside terrestrial, sky and space-based assets.
SoftBank’s Ryuji Wakikawa discussed the future role of HAPS from a network perspective. Looking ahead to a 6G world in 2030, Wakikawa said that network infrastructure will need to completely change to realize a fully-digitalized society. “In addition to terrestrial base stations, HAPS and satellites will be part of network infrastructure to support industry, consumers and society,” he said.
Using HAPS to mitigate climate change and suppress wildfires
While communications-based applications for HAPS are relatively well known, HAPS is also proving to be beneficial in other areas as well. Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO and Founder of Sceye, a manufacturer of HAPS airships, noted his company’s work with the European Space Agency (ESA) for methane monitoring. “With their satellites ESA can see methane emissions with a pixel resolution of 7km by 7km, but from the stratosphere we can see emissions with a resolution of 1m by 1m. The difference means we can see whether an emission is from a gas pipeline leaking or a cow standing next to it.”
As wildfires become a growing concern in North America and other regions, HAPS Alliance companies are working in partnership with government agencies to prevent their spread. In a session related to actions against wildfires, guests from NASA and the US Forest Service discussed their R&D efforts in the area, and Alliance member companies Airbus and Raven Aerostar outlined the fire monitoring use cases they have deployed in Europe and the US, respectively.
Accesible exclusively to HAPS Alliance members, the second day of the HAPS Alliance Summit brought together participants for workshops, networking and interactive discussions. Topics included how to utilize the Loon Collection, Multi-Altitude Strategy and Collaboration, and the HAPS Radiowave Propagation Prediction Method.
Building on the momentum from this event, the HAPS Alliance will continue to grow and drive forward advancements in the HAPS ecosystem.
An Alliance Working to Connect the Unconnected
The HAPS Alliance’s mission is to eliminate the digital divide and bring connectivity to more people, places and things worldwide by using high altitude platform stations (HAPS). The Alliance brings together some of the world's most recognizable companies across telecommunications, technology, aviation and aerospace. United in the goal of promoting HAPS technologies, the Alliance was founded in 2020.
Learn more about the Alliance’s activities and how to join on the HAPS Alliance website.
(Posted on December 3, 2021)
by SoftBank News Editors