New Competitor in Infrastructure Inspection Vertical

infrastructure inspection

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New autonomous solar-powered blimps will be used to collect long-distance aerial data. Mothership Aeronautics will build and deploy its new TerraSoar Aerial Intelligence Airship. TerraSoar’s powerful combination of lighter-than-air lifting and high-efficiency solar cells enables higher endurance and longer-range flights than possible with drones, while also operating heavy payloads like LiDAR.

Over the next 18 months, the company will provide Aerial Intelligence to industry verticals such as aerial inspection of long linear infrastructure, e.g energy and water pipelines, road and railroad, according to

Drones have been slow to break into the pipeline inspection business due to their short range and flight times and FAA visibility requirements. Currently, the FAA limits operations of UAVs to within line-of-sight of the operator. At 9m length, TerraSoar can be seen at over 10x the distance of the largest inspection drones on the market. The company is also working on an FAA Beyond Visual Line of Sight waiver.

The TerraSoar can stop, hover and fly in all directions with precision usually only achievable by multirotor drones.

In the past, Mothership demonstrated a 7m long Proof-of-Concept solar airship, the Scout. In the demonstration, the Scout achieved Infinity Cruise: a flight in which more power is generated by the solar panels than is needed to propel the aircraft. Infinity Cruise is the first step towards Aerial Persistence and a cornerstone upon which Mothership will develop its technology, according to the company’s website.