Mapping organisation Ordnance Survey plans to launch a solar-powered drone to seize larger high quality photographs of the Earth.
Its Astigan craft will fly larger than business airliners at 67,000 ft (20,400m), and will circle the Earth for 90 days earlier than it must land.
It should gather photographs and knowledge for companies and organisations to make use of.
It hopes to launch “totally operational high-altitude checks” of the craft earlier than the tip of 2019.
Ordnance Survey owns 51% of Astigan, which relies in Bridgwater, Somerset.
It operates from the identical manufacturing unit that when 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 informed the BBC that the present 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. Fairly than circling the planet, it is going to 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 pictures for our revision programme. Then we’ve got our subject surveyors on the bottom, supported by knowledge 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 can be just like these on mapping plane. Ordnance Survey stated it will not be doable to determine individuals on the pictures.
“It is arduous to see individuals vertically, as you’ll be able to solely see the highest of individuals’s heads,” stated Mr Ackroyd.
The drone can be used to gather photographs and knowledge to be used in business and industrial purposes, so the pictures are unlikely to point out up on providers resembling 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 price or their massive geography.
The platform may even be made accessible to firms who need to connect their very own sensors and cameras, for instance to trace local weather change.