Project Aquila: Facebook has abandoned plans to build a fleet of planes for internet distribution in areas they do not have.
About four billion people do not have access to the internet worldwide and since 2014 Facebook has been developing the Aquila project. The ambitious spacecraft would use giant solar motors to distribute internet connections around the world.
Facebook has set up a team in Bridgewater, UK to design, develop and test an aircraft that would use the HAPS system (from the high altitude platform station).
The Aquila drone was designed to stay in the air for months and create a 50-kilometer communication zone for up to 90 days, transmitting a signal that through small ground towers would be converted to Wi-Fi or LTE.
The project as well as the scale of the Aquila were very ambitious: The plane had Boeing 737-sized wings but weighed a third of an electric car. It was designed to fly between 60.000 and 90.000 feet during the day, ie above the altitude of commercial flights.
Facebook said the team was able to prove that such aircraft were viable as it managed to conduct two flight tests. However, problems arose. The company itself announced that the first test flight ended in "structural failure" just a few seconds before landing. Of course he did not specify the term.
The company stated that during the project it made progress in some other key points of the system. For example the integration of millimeter wave technology (MMW) for air-to-ground communication from point to point. However, he said he would stop with the project as other aerospace companies have begun investing in the technology. So he closed his unit in Bridgwater.
"Going forward, we will continue to work with others such as Airbus on HAPS technology but also in general on all the technologies required to operate the system, such as flight control computers and high-density batteries," he said. Yael Maguire.