Facebook Scraps Internet Drone Plan

Facebook Scraps Internet Drone Plan
The Aquila drone will not be used to provide internet connections from the sky to remote areas.

(CCM) — Facebook has abandoned its plan to offer internet connectivity to remote communities from a fleet of solar-powered drones that beam down connections from the sky.

The company announced its Project Aquila four years ago, and tested a huge drone with a wingspan as great as a Boeing 737 aircraft. The Aquila drone was designed to run off solar power during the day, and remain aloft at night using power stored in on-board batteries. But the drone was unable to remain airborne for as long as the high altitude balloons being tested by Google as part of its similar Project Loon project to provide internet from the sky.

In tests the Aquila drone managed a 90-minute flight, while one of Google's balloons stayed in the air for almost half a year, according to a BBC report.

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,” Yael Maguire, Facebook’s director of engineering, said in the report. "Given these developments, we've decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer."

The company plans to close down its Aquila drone development facility in the U.K.

But Facebook has not given up its plans to provide internet connections in remote areas from the sky completely. While it will no longer be developing the Aquila drone, the company says it will continue to work with other companies such as Airbus on the technology required, including flight control computers and high density batteries.

Image: © Facebook.