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Lanai drone project to continue without 5G

Focus has always been solar, electric power, project manager says

The Maui News

Flight operation plans on Lanai for a drone as wide as a football field are still on; however, the project will continue without testing for 5G advanced wireless airborne services to people on the ground, the project manager said.

The unmanned aerial system (UAS) flies independently at about 22 mph and is powered by electrical and solar energy. It can potentially fly 65,000 to 85,000 feet for as long as a year.

“No more 5G to the project because it was overshadowing the solar power, electric aviation part,” said George Purdy Wednesday afternoon. “That was the whole root to the program. . . . That will be part of my speech tonight.”

Clarifications were announced at Wednesday night’s Lanai Planning Commission meeting. Purdy is the co-owner of Drone Services Hawaii and was instrumental in bringing the Hawk30 program to Lanai.

The Hawk30 program is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration Test Range, which oversees the Pan Pacific Unmanned Airspace Test Range complex of which the University of Hawaii is a part.

UH Research Organization has a support agreement with program sponsor HAPSMobile Inc. to perform the test project on Lanai. SoftBank Corp., Loon LLC and AeroVironment also are involved in the project.

The program’s goal is to develop and test a high altitude platform drone to maintain flight over deep valleys, remote land areas and the ocean, solely powered by solar and electricity.

Only one launch is still anticipated on the island.