Mapping organisation Ordnance Survey plans to launch a solar-powered drone to seize increased high quality photographs of the Earth.
Its Astigan craft will fly increased than business airliners at 67,000 ft (20,400m), and will circle the Earth for 90 days earlier than it must land.
It is going to acquire photographs and information for companies and organisations to make use of.
It hopes to launch “totally operational high-altitude assessments” of the craft earlier than the top of 2019.
Ordnance Survey owns 51% of Astigan, which is predicated in Bridgwater, Somerset.
It operates from the identical manufacturing facility that after housed Fb’s Aquila web drone mission.
The area grew to become accessible after Fb deserted its drone plans, and the corporate says there’s in any other case no hyperlink between the 2 drone initiatives.
Ordnance Survey advised the BBC that the prevailing mapping satellites orbiting the Earth can’t present sufficient excessive decision element for its maps.
Its Astigan drone is a high-altitude pseudo satellite tv for pc. Quite than circling the planet, it will likely be managed from the bottom and despatched to map massive areas of curiosity.
“Our present mapping capabilities are pushed by two efforts,” defined Neil Ackroyd, performing chief govt of Ordnance Survey.
“One is utilizing fixed-wing plane to take photographs for our revision programme. Then we have now our area surveyors on the bottom, supported by information from native authorities and the land registry.
“What the Astigan mission does is provides us the aptitude of utilizing plane, however faster and at considerably decrease value.”
The cameras the Astigan craft will carry shall be much like these on mapping plane. Ordnance Survey mentioned it might not be attainable to establish individuals on the pictures.
“It is onerous to see individuals vertically, as you possibly can solely see the highest of individuals’s heads,” mentioned Mr Ackroyd.
The drone shall be used to gather photographs and information to be used in business and industrial functions, so the pictures are unlikely to indicate up on providers similar to Google Maps or Bing.
In addition to mapping the UK, Ordnance Survey plans to supply mapping providers to nations that in any other case battle to afford them due to the fee or their massive geography.
The platform can even be made accessible to corporations who wish to connect their very own sensors and cameras, for instance to trace local weather change.