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Internet Drone Test Ends in Disaster

Paul Rubens - November 22, 2016 - 10:31 AM
 Internet Drone Test Ends in Disaster
Facebook's plans to offer internet access from a fleet of drones has suffered a setback after a catastrophic crash.

(CCM) — Facebook's plans to provide internet access from a fleet of giant drones suffered a huge setback when the first drone test flight ended in disaster, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The drone, named Aquila, suffered a "structural failure" and was substantially damaged, says the report. No people were injured in the accident, but the damage compromised the airworthiness of the aircraft and appeared to plunge the future of the project into doubt. However, a Facebook spokesperson denied this, saying: "We have already learned a lot from the results of this flight test and will continue to learn from all the future flight tests we plan to run." The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board plans to release a detailed accident report on the incident within the next two months.

Facebook's long-term plan is to offer broadband internet access to 1.6 billion people who currently do not have access to a mobile phone network from a web of high-altitude, solar-powered drones. Each aircraft has a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 and is designed to stay airborne for up to 90 days. Facebook has suffered a number of setbacks in its plans to offer internet connectivity. In September, a Facebook satellite was destroyed on its launchpad, and in February, the Indian telecommunications regulator put a stop to Facebook's planned service that would have offered unlimited access to a limited number of websites.

Image: © fyv6561 - Shutterstock.com
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