AeroVironment Inc. has entered into a joint venture with a Japanese company for the development of a solar-powered, high-altitude, long-endurance drone.
The Monrovia company is taking a 5 percent stake in HAPSMobile Inc., with the remainder owned by the Japanese telecommunications operator SoftBank Corp. AeroVironment has the option to acquire up to 19 percent of the company.
AeroVironment designs, builds and tests its drones in Simi Valley.
Chief Executive Wahid Nawabi called the deal an historic moment for AeroVironment in that it had been seeking the right partner to pursue the opportunity.
“Now we believe we are extremely well-positioned to build on the decades of successful development we have performed to translate our solar UAS innovations into long-term value through HAPSMobile Inc.,” Nawabi said in a prepared statement.
AeroVironment pioneered solar-powered unmanned aircraft in the 1980s. Its aircraft include the Helios, which set a world’s record for sustained horizontal flight by a winged aircraft; the Pathfinder Plus, which demonstrated communications capabilities; and the Global Observer, a hybrid-electric aircraft.
Shares in AeroVironment (AVAV) on Wednesday closed down 18 cents, or less than a percent, to $54.67 on the Nasdaq.