Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Startup Stories: HAPS and creating a digital twin of the Earth

posted by Total Telecom
Monday 22 November 21

After featuring at this year's Total Telecom Congress, we caught up with aerial connectivity innovator VAAL Airships to learn more about High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) and their potential to change the dynamics of the telecoms industry

Tell us about VAAL AIrships VAAL Airships OÜ is a deep-tech startup, working on creating a physical High Altitude Pseudo Satellite platform in order to offer radically improved Earth observability and special connectivity services. The High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) that VAAL develops have the potential to replace satellites – enabling many climate monitoring solutions and connectivity while significantly reducing ecological footprint doing so. A digital twin of the earth can be built based on our data, with much higher pixel density, refresh rate and a smaller footprint…

Tell us about VAAL AIrships
VAAL Airships OÜ is a deep-tech startup, working on creating a physical High Altitude Pseudo Satellite platform in order to offer radically improved Earth observability and special connectivity services. The High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) that VAAL develops have the potential to replace satellites – enabling many climate monitoring solutions and connectivity while significantly reducing ecological footprint doing so. A digital twin of the earth can be built based on our data, with much higher pixel density, refresh rate and a smaller footprint.

Validated customers are offshore operators and telecoms, who are interested in improved connectivity which can be offered using HAPS.
 
 

 
 
What is your USP?  
Our drones can exceed the current 5 km altitude limit and go to 21 km altitude in stratosphere and are steerable to offer various connectivity and observation solutions. Special internet connections, imaging, live video, radar. In addition, greenhouse gases can also be monitored with very high resolution to enable transparency and third-party validation in carbon credits markets.
 
 
What is your relationship with the telecom sector?
We can provide improved connectivity to the telecom sector. Although our beachhead market is offshore companies in Norway, telecoms are our partners to enable first trials during public events.
 
 
How have you got to your current stage of development?  
We have gotten to our current stage of development thanks to several accelerators and incubators for example we just finished Baltics & Slovakia ClimAccelerator. We have previously been in Go2Space, ActInSpace, Prototron, Buildit and Beamline. We have also taken part of Superangel Base Camp which is a 72-hour hackathon designed for early-stage startups. Our key investors are 5 private persons.
 
Why did you establish the business? What is your background and why did you launch this organisation?   
The team has a background in developing drones and satellites. We saw that drones and satellites have several disadvantages and concluded that stratospheric drones are a perfect middle ground. They have the latency, operativity and data resolution similar to drones. At the same time, the HAPS have the perks of long duration flight time and relative independence from the weather just like the satellites. In addition, the HAPS is more carbon neutral than either of them as the drones have high energy needs to stay in air and the satellites require rockets.
 
Who or what inspired you to pursue this path?   
We are inspired by many books. For example, “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. “In the near future, an unknown force causes the Moon to shatter into seven pieces. Moon fragments will begin entering Earth's atmosphere and blanketing the earth within two years. The story tells of the efforts to preserve human society in the wake of apocalyptic events on Earth by sending humans into space.”
 
‘’Aurora’’ by Kim Stanley Robinson. The novel concerns a generation ship built in the style of a Stanford torus traveling to Tau Ceti in order to begin a human colony.
 
“Forty Signs of Rain” by Kim Stanley Robinson. The focus of the novel is the effects of global warming in the early decades of the 21st century.
 
We aim to avoid space trash and help manage the climate crisis by bringing satellites closer to earth and also keeping Earth orbit free of debris.
 
What does the future hold for your business?
In the future we will have globally 3,000 VAAL’s in the stratosphere. They can be used for many smart city applications, road and railway observation, provide high accuracy tracking and observation for climate emissions and nature conservation. With VAALs we aim to create a complete digital twin of the Earth.
 
Based: Saue, Estonia
Employees: 5
Most recent funding: Bootstrapping
URL: https://vaalairships.com/ 
 
Total Telecom now hosts startup zones at many of our events in the UK and overseas. To discover the opportunities and if you qualify, email info@totaltele.com

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