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A HAPS Mobile broadband drone in flight

A HAPS Mobile broadband drone in flight

Spaceport America

Facebook may have scrapped its Aquila project to beam broadband internet access down from high-altitude drones, but a Japanese venture called HAPSMobile has reported success in testing similar technology. The company lofted a giant solar-powered wing called Sunglider up to an altitude of 62,500 feet for a 20-hour data-beaming test flight in the stratosphere above New Mexico on Wednesday.

Using mobile network technology from Loon, the balloon-based internet access effort from Google parent company Alphabet, the 262-foot-wide aircraft hosted video calls with internet pioneer Vint Cerf, among others. It also withstood strong winds, HAPSMobile said Thursday.

It’s the latest example of how self-piloting, unmanned aircraft can potentially change many industries. Startups and established companies are developing drones to fight

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