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Williams Advanced Engineering and Airbus collaborate on materials and battery technologies for Zephyr HAPS program

Airbus and Williams Advanced Engineering have signed a memorandum of understanding under which the two companies will focus on the ways in which ultra-lightweight materials, battery technologies and electrical cell chemistries can be integrated on Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) program.

In 2015, Airbus Defence and Space and Sion Power Corporation signed a three-year Collaborative Agreement under which Sion Power enhanced and supplied proprietary lithium sulfur (Li-S) batteries for use in Zephyr aircraft. (Earlier post.) Zephyr is a record-breaking, solar-powered, unmanned aerial system (UAS), or drone, with unique communications and surveillance capabilities. It will fly at more than 65,000 ft—above commercial air traffic—for months at a time. The first production examples are being manufactured at Farnborough for the UK Ministry of Defense.

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With four decades of experience at the pinnacle of motor racing, where lightweight materials and structures are crucial to speed and safety, Williams is now developing these technologies and finding innovative solutions to weight saving with its know-how. Its most recent developments have included an innovative take on using recycled carbon fibre to manufacture components that can be 40% lighter than current alternatives.

As sole battery supplier to the FIA Formula E championship since its inception, Williams Advanced Engineering’s battery technology has been tried and tested, and its world-leading expertise in electrification has become core to the business. Further, with four decades of experience at the pinnacle of motor racing, where lightweight materials and structures are crucial, Williams is now developing these technologies and finding innovative solutions to weight saving.

At Airbus we have enormous respect for Williams Advanced Engineering’s technical expertise and achievements, as well as for their impressive record in rapidly bringing new technologies and products to market. Our engineering teams are thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from the Formula 1 world and just as enthusiastic about sharing much of what we have learned in developing solutions to high-altitude, solar-powered flight.

—Jana Rosenmann, Airbus Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems

Comments

HarveyD

Could become an ideal emergency platform to relay communications, photos and TV to devastated areas such as Porto-Rico and others.

Could also become part of essential information gathering platform for border security, crime fighting and armed forces.

Looks a lot like a reduced version of the world's first round the world e-plane?

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