Facebook abandons Aquila project – Internet with drones
Facebook announced that it will no longer build a giant aircraft powered by solar energy to bring internet to remote communities
It is simply not practical. This is the reason why Facebook decided to abandon its project to bring internet to underserved communities through a giant drone, reports the site “TechCrunch” citing a statement from the social network.
Facebook is giving up its project to build a giant airplane powered by solar energy that would take the internet to remote communities through the laser. “We have decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer, and to close our facilities in Bridgewate,” said Facebook’s engineering director, Yael Maguire, on the company’s coding blog.
“TechCrunch” explains that the closure of the Bridgewate installation implies the cessation of 16 specific works for the development and maintenance of the aircraft. Although this does not mean the total abandonment of the project, because Facebook will continue working with partners such as Airbus to build “high altitude platform stations” (HAPS), as is the plan referred to the Aquila drone.
The Aquila program began in 2014 and was public the following year. In 2016, it flew for the first time in a test that resulted in a “structural failure” due to the forced landing and subsequent investigation by the US National Transportation Safety Board. The second test was better, but still very imperfect despite being able to stay in the air with an extremely low energy consumption and replaced by solar energy.
The work with this drone seems to have motivated other companies to be interested in entering low power communications aircraft that fly at high altitude. “As we work on these efforts, it has been exciting to see leading aerospace companies start investing in this technology too, including the design and construction of new high-altitude aircraft,” said Maguire.
The specialized journalist Devin Coldewey believes that taking into account the work that had to make the social network from scratch and the large gap that exists in the competition with aerospace companies, “it is not surprising that Facebook decided to reduce their losses.”
Actually, the project already had some time to be stagnant, reports “Busines Insider”. The boss and the chief engineer left Facebook last month after they rejected a proposal to double the project with a redesign and private hangar.
Context and future
The Aquila project was conceived when Facebook was at its “peak”. At a time when he was experiencing his greatest peak of growth and where the level of criticism was remotely inferior to what he is experiencing today. Now, with lesser goals in many ways, the company is thinking about getting its next billion active users on a less expensive path. Although the work will continue, but in a “somewhat indirect” way.
“From now on, we will continue working with partners such as Airbus in HAPS connectivity in general, and in the other technologies necessary for this system to work, such as flight control computers and high density batteries,” said Maguire.
“In terms of policies, we will work on a proposal for the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference to obtain more spectrum for HAPS, and we will actively participate in a series of aviation advisory boards and standards development committees in the United States and internationally.”