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Radical Aims to Deploy Solar-Powered High-Altitude Autonomous Aircraft into The Stratosphere

Image Credits: Radical
By: Headliners News / May 21, 2024

While the space race captures news headlines, Radical is set on achieving new heights, quite literally. Their vision? Solar-powered, high-altitude autonomous aircraft that promise to eclipse past endeavors like Facebook’s Aquila by refining the technology and tapping into broader markets.

A decade ago, Facebook’s ambitious plan to utilize solar-powered aircraft for internet connectivity in remote areas made waves. However, despite the project’s grounding, the concept endured.

Now, Radical’s CEO James Thomas believes the time is ripe for such innovation, as there’s been interest in these high-altitude aircraft for a long time. However, in the past few years, supporting technologies like batteries, solar panels, and advanced compute have significantly matured.

The innovative Seattle-based startup recently secured a $4.5 million seed round, propelling them from small-scale demonstrators to full-scale aircraft. Imagine a craft with a wingspan of about 100 feet, weighing as much as a person—around 100-200 pounds.

While Radical’s primary goal is to deploy these full-scale aircraft into the stratosphere, they’re exploring various applications. From providing 24/7 live monitoring for wildfire-prone areas to serving as flying 5G stations in remote regions, the possibilities are vast.

Operating in the stratosphere offers regulatory advantages, reducing the bureaucratic load and expediting approvals. However, Radical faces competition from projects like AALTO at Airbus and Skydweller, which are eyeing similar telecom and surveillance roles.

What sets Radical apart? According to Thomas, it’s their collaborative approach. Rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution, they tailor their platform to meet each customer’s specific needs.

With plans to take flight within the next 12 months, Radical aims to prove their full-size craft’s capabilities, setting the stage for commercial endeavors.

Led by Scout Ventures and backed by investors like Inflection and Y Combinator, Radical’s seed round signals great confidence in their vision of redefining the skies with solar-powered innovation.

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