Facebook drops solar-powered Internet drone business, cans Aquila

28 June, 2018, 03:30 | Author: Leah Owens
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In a statement released last night, Facebook's director of engineering Yael Maguire said the company would be ceasing any efforts to build those planes itself, despite acquiring Somerset-based UAV manufacturer Ascenta to do just that three years ago.

Since the start of the programme, Facebook has been working on technology and policy to help the four billion people now not connected to the internet gain access.

In 2014, Facebook began working on a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system called Aquila.

Described by the company as a 'high-altitude platform station (HAPS) system, ' the UK-led Project Aquila attempted to develop autonomous drones which can fly over a region and provide wireless connectivity to those who do not now have internet access.

According to Facebook, its Aquila work has been a process of trial and error, one that launched with little competition and required starting from scratch.

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The solar-powered drones were meant to remain high up in the air between 60,000 to 90,000 feet, each drone circling in a 3-mile radius, commandeered to blast lasers of the Internet spectrum and deliver high-speed data.

"Going forward, we'll continue to work with partners like Airbus on Haps [high altitude platform station] connectivity generally, and on the other technologies needed to make this system work, like flight control computers and high-density batteries", Maguire wrote in a blogpost announcing the closure of the Bridgwater facility, where Aquila was built.

Facebook said there are now other companies in aerospace that are investing in the same kind of technology.

Facebook says it plans to "actively" participate in various aviation advisory boards, as well as rule-making committees, both internationally and within the United States. We can't help but wonder whether Google's similarly tedious approach of using hot air balloons (Project Loon) might end up blowing the same way. Facebook has already connected almost 100 million people as a result of our efforts.

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