A project known as StratoBus has emerged from Thales in France. StratoBus totes the potential of precise, autonomous observation and communications assistance, and the first prototype from Thales is expected in the next five years.

See: Engineering Newswire: Half-drone, half-satellite StratoBus prototype

The autonomous airship, operating at an altitude of about 20 km (the lower Stratosphere), can carry payloads up to 200 kg.