AeroVironment announces joint venture to develop solar-powered HALE UAS



AeroVironment, Inc. has announced the formation of a joint venture to develop solar-powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAS for commercial operations.

The joint venture, known as HAPSMobile, Inc., will fund the development program up to a net maximum value of $65,011,481.

HAPSMobile, Inc. is a Japanese corporation that is 95 percent funded and owned by SoftBank Corp., which is a telecommunications operator based in Japan. The remaining five percent of the joint venture is funded and owned by AeroVironment, which is committed to contribute $5 million in capital for its five percent ownership of HAPSMobile.

AeroVironment has an option to increase its ownership stake in HAPSMobile “up to 19 percent at the same cost basis as its initial 5 percent purchase.”

“For many years, we have fully understood the incredible value high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft platforms could deliver to countless organizations and millions of people around the world through remote sensing and last mile, next generation IoT connectivity,” says Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment chief executive officer.

“We were searching for the right strategic partner to pursue this very large global opportunity with us. Now we believe we are extremely well-positioned to build on the decades of successful development we have performed to translate our solar UAS innovations into long-term value through HAPSMobile, Inc.”

Softbank and AeroVironment have agreed to license certain background intellectual properties to HAPSMobile. HAPSMobile will own the newly developed UAS intellectual property, and possess exclusive rights for commercial applications globally, and non-commercial applications in Japan.

AeroVironment will possess exclusive rights to the resulting intellectual property for certain non-commercial applications—except in Japan—and it will also possess exclusive rights to design and manufacture all such aircraft in the future for HAPSMobile, subject to the terms of the Joint Venture Agreement.