Dirigible Drones Will Watch the World From 13 Miles Up

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

The Stratobus aims to fly between UAVs and satellites:

Designed to be about the length of a football field and 25 yards in diameter, the blimp-shaped vehicle’s shell will be made of carbon fiber.

Without a launcher, StratoBus floats to the lower stratosphere at an altitude of about 13 miles where developers say it will be in a perfect position to carry out a range of functions, including surveillance, border security monitoring, communications reinforcement and facilitating navigation — all from a stationary position with the help of two self-adjusting electric motors. The StratoBus will be able to endure missions of up to a year with a total lifetime of five years.

The ultra-lightweight design allows for a plug-and-play payload on the nacelle that can accommodate up to 450 pounds. And because the drone-tellite stays closer to earth, it will be able to take higher resolution images and maintain a stronger communications system. It might even be used to boost GSM network capacity during high traffic periods.

StratoBus will have a state-of-the-art solar power system with panels that rotate to maximize sun access coupled with a power amplification system to handle any surges in expended power.

The StratoBus project is led by Thales Alenia Space with Airbus Defence & Space, Zodiac Marine and CEA-Liten, who say they expect the first prototype within five years.


  1. Bob Sykes says:

    We’ve been there before. Blimps and dirigibles fly only in fair weather. Thunderstorms wreck them.

  2. Ross says:

    Ah, so they can be used for weather prediction as well, eh?

  3. Isegoria says:

    The stratosphere is up above the clouds and turbulence, so it should be safe for airships.

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