Social networking giant Facebook has filed a patent for an unusual unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) called a “dual-kite aerial vehicle” that actually use kites to stay aloft. According the patent this “dual-kite aerial vehicle” is composed of two kites tethered together and floating at different altitudes. Each kite could be directed independently, and the drone could generate its own energy to extend its flight time.
Facebook filed the patent in November of 2018. It claims the kite drone would improve on more plane- or helicopter-like designs by cutting down the weight, cost, and size required to keep an aircraft flying for long periods of time. Fleets of drones could be operated wirelessly from the ground, and the drones could generate power through solar panels or tether movement.
The patent states, “The purpose is to extend its flying time. The systems described herein additionally include components for generating electrical energy from the gradient air movement to extend a flight time of the dual-kite aerial vehicle”.
The patent also explains that it aims to overcome the shortcoming found in other drones. “As UAV design moves into this challenging new frontier, shortcomings of conventional aircraft design have become increasingly apparent,” reads the patent description. It goes on to name all the complications encountered by UAVs from poor performance to unpredictable flight conditions.
Facebook says that these drones could still be fairly large even describing the tether to be a kilometer-long. The drones could also generate power through solar panels or tether movement.
Its purpose is not yet known but one could assume it is to boost or give access to the internet in our of reach areas. That has been the purpose of the other drones Facebook has toyed with till date. While most drone news followers will remember Facebook’s Aquila and Catalina projects- both were met with mixed reviews. The first was a 900-pound carbon fiber aircraft while the latter used bird-sized drones.
This time round it still remains unclear if Facebook is directly involved with building the drones. It does however indicate Facebook‘s continuing interest in experimental aerial vehicles. Since Facebook’s attempts to spread internet access worldwide have proven controversial — so even if the design is great, it may not want to launch a fleet of Facebook kites. But given that it’s previously partnered with companies like Airbus, it’s also not hard to imagine the company collaborating on new aerial systems.
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