Facebook Ditches Plans to Build Internet Drones


Facebook Ditches Plans to Build Internet Drones

Facebook has announced that they are ditching plans to build passenger-jet sized drones which would provide wireless internet to the developing world.

Named the Aquila project, Facebook had planned to build the solar-powered drones as part of their internet.org project, which had a stated goal of “connecting the whole world.”

Facebook had intended fly the Aquila drones at a higher altitude than commercial planes and then relay laser-based internet signals down to base-stations below.

But in a blog post, Facebook’s Director of Engineering Yael Maguire said the company would no longer be designing and constructing its own aircraft and that the decision came down to the advancement of other aerospace companies in the field.

Maguire wrote: “As we’ve worked on these (building the drone) efforts, it’s been exciting to see leading companies in the aerospace industry start investing in this technology too — including the design and construction of new high-altitude aircraft.

“Given these developments, we’ve decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer, and to close our facility in Bridgwater.

According to Business Insider, the internet giants will also lay off an estimated 16 staff as a result of the decision.

Maguire went on to say that the company will now focus on developing the drone’s underlying technologies rather than building the drone in-house.

Maguire continued: “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.

“On the policy front, we’ll be working on a proposal for 2019 World Radio Conference to get more spectrum for HAPS, and we’ll be actively participating in a number of aviation advisory boards and rule-making committees in the US and internationally.”

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