Facebook Ditches Plan to Make High Altitude Internet Drones
In 2015, one of the most ambitious Facebook projects was unveiled – building a huge drone network capable of providing a free high-speed internet connection to those areas where infrastructure is not available.
Named Aquila, the high altitude platform station (HAPS) was intended to be powered solely by solar energy, thereby giving it the ability to fly autonomously for months on end.
Two successful full-scale flights were made, including one perfect landing.
When the social media giant began the project back in 2014 – centuries in terms of the pace at which aerial technologies are developed today – there were not many companies innovating in this space.
Today however, Facebook has instead said they will work together with aerospace giant Airbus, who recently announced they will launch their own HAPS system from a remote Western Australian airport.
Since head of the Aquila project, Andrew Cox, announced his departure in May, some suspected that changes to the project would eventuate.
It even became known, through some leaked emails, that a possible redesign for the drones would arrive, with one the size of a Boeing 747.
Instead, Facebook’s Director of Engineering Yael Maguire now says they will concentrate more specifically on components required to make high altitude internet connectivity a reality.
“Going forward, we’ll continue to work with partners like Airbus on HAPS connectivity generally, and on the other technologies needed to make this system work, like flight control computers and high-density batteries,” he writes.
Is bad news for staffers – the social media company has confirmed will close their facilities in Bridgewater, England, and will dismiss the entire team.
Ultimately however, the focus is still on connectivity for the social media giant, who have attracted over 2 billion users to their social networking platform to date.