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Sat 28 Jan 2017 01:13 AM

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Masdar Institute inks deal to work on Stratobus airship project

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology to develop applications for drone-satellite hybrid aircraft

Masdar Institute inks deal to work on Stratobus airship project

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy, has signed an agreement to develop applications for the Stratobus drone-satellite hybrid airship.

The memorandum of understanding has been signed with French company Thales/Thales Alenia Space and French engineering university MINES ParisTech, a statement said.

Stratobus is a type of aircraft currently being developed by Thales Alenia Space together with French and European partners.

Functioning effectively as a hybrid between a drone and a satellite, Stratobus will be positioned at an altitude of about 20km over its theatre of operations, in the lower layer of the stratosphere, where the air is sufficiently dense to lift the airship balloon and the winds are low.

With its involvement in Stratobus project, Masdar Institute said it will advance its role in driving cutting-edge innovation in earth observation technologies to bring sustainable benefits, locally, regionally and globally.

As per the agreement, Masdar Institute will work to develop the environmental applications of Stratobus for the UAE. This first six-month phase of the project will focus on defining the needs of Stratobus’s UAE users.

In the second phase, Masdar Institute will be tasked with interfacing with the various UAE users to define their environmental application needs, developing the detailed specifications and technical processes, and defining and developing the specific software algorithms to be included in the Stratobus control centres.

The innovative airship will carry technical equipment that allows it to perform surveillance of borders or land or sea sites, environmental monitoring, climate change impacts and provide telecommunications services.

To be fully autonomous, Stratobus will incorporate innovative technologies such as high efficiency flexible solar cells supplying a strong electrical power on board.

Thales Alenia Space and partners said they plan to launch the first qualification and certification flight in 2020.

Jean-Philippe Chessel, Stratobus business line product manager said: “Masdar Institute has unique expertise in environmental monitoring research that we believe to be of value in developing the environment applications of Stratobus to deliver its innovative services, which is why we are excited to work together to discover and develop locally relevant environmental applications for our technology.”

Dr Behjat Al Yousuf, interim provost of Masdar Institute, added: “Stratobus represents an innovative way to enhance the UAE’s environmental monitoring ability and Masdar Institute is keen to be part of this exciting new interface of aerospace, communication, and environmental monitoring technologies.”

Masdar Institute has established itself as a leading organisation in the region in the field of earth observation, satellite image processing, and atmospheric modeling, and is particularly recognised for its expertise in desert and arid environments.

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