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Battery weight has been one of the critical problems in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, especially for long endurance flights.

Within the framework of a newly signed MoU, Airbus and Williams Advanced Engineering are to explore potential areas of technological collaboration, including a power solution for the Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS).

The Zephyr is a solar-powered, unmanned aerial system (UAS), or drone, with unique communications and surveillance capabilities. It will fly at more than 65,000ft, above commercial air traffic, for months at a time.

It is uniquely capable of providing persistent surveillance over land or sea, and hosting communications links, over the same area for months at a time without landing. Zephyr flies slowly and above weather systems, loitering over a selected area under the close guidance of a ground controller to perform its mission, according to Airbus website.

Williams Advanced Engineering offers its tried and tested battery technology based on lightweight composites and its experience at the Formula 1 motor racing, where lightweight materials and structures are crucial. Williams has developed high power density batteries and electric motors for a range of applications and market sectors.