Home / Networking / ​Facebook abandons plan to build giant-wing solar broadband drones

​Facebook abandons plan to build giant-wing solar broadband drones

Fb has deserted plans to construct a fleet of high-altitude drones that may supply web entry to distant areas.

Round 4 billion folks globally would not have entry to the web, and again in 2014 Fb started work on its Aquila mission, which aimed to make use of large solar-powered drones to beam down the web.

Fb arrange a crew in Bridgewater within the UK to guide the design, improvement, and testing work for a brand new sort of plane, generally known as a excessive altitude platform station (HAPS) system.

The Aquila drone was designed to remain within the air for months at a time, and create a 50km communications zone for as much as 90 days, transmitting a sign that may be obtained by small towers and dishes, and transformed right into a Wi-Fi or LTE community that individuals may connect with utilizing their smartphones.

SEE: The new commute: How driverless cars, hyperloop, and drones will change our travel plans (TechRepublic cowl story) | download the PDF version

The dimensions of the mission was formidable: the Aquila was designed with the wingspan of a Boeing 737 airplane however weighed a 3rd as a lot as an electrical automotive, and was designed to fly at between 60,000 and 90,000 toes in the course of the day, which put it above industrial air site visitors and above the climate, making it simpler to cost its photo voltaic cells.

Fb mentioned that the crew had been capable of show that an plane of this design was viable and carried out two full-scale check flights. Nevertheless, it was not with out points — the primary check flight ended with what the social media firm described as a ‘structural failure’ simply seconds earlier than the touchdown.

The social media large mentioned in the course of the mission it has additionally made progress on among the different key components of the system — together with setting new information utilizing millimeter-wave (MMW) expertise in air-to-ground and point-to-point communication. However it mentioned that as different aerospace corporations have began investing on this expertise it has determined to not design or construct its personal plane any longer, and to shut the ability in Bridgwater.

“Going ahead, we’ll proceed to work with companions like Airbus on HAPS connectivity usually, and on the opposite applied sciences wanted to make this method work, like flight management computer systems and high-density batteries,” mentioned Yael Maguire, Facebook’s director of engineering.

SEE: Sensor’d enterprise: IoT, ML, and big data (ZDNet particular report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Fb is just not alone in making an attempt to convey the web to these areas at the moment with out it.

Google’s Project Loon goals to makes use of balloons floating at very excessive altitude to ship web entry. Its mission is additional alongside, in that its balloons have flown over 25 million kilometres of check flights to this point, with one balloon surviving for 190 days within the stratosphere.

Since launch, the mission has demonstrated knowledge transmission between balloons over 100km aside within the stratosphere, from 20km above the Earth, and again to folks on the bottom, with connection speeds of as much as 10Mbps to LTE telephones. Google beforehand experimented with drones within the type of its Project Skybender, however determined balloons had been the extra promising possibility for connecting rural and distant areas.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is wanting on the drawback from a barely totally different perspective, hoping to launch greater than 4 thousand tiny satellites to beam the internet from orbit.


Fb’s Aquila solar-powered web drone.

Picture: Fb


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