Facebook halts production of UAS for internet delivery - UV - Unmanned Vehicles

The company just announced that it will kill its Aquila program, an effort to build a high-altitude platform station system.it's not going to design and manufacture its own aircraft anymore and is closing the relevant facility in the British town of Bridgwater.

Yael Maguire, engineering director at Facebook, said: 'When we started the Aquila programme back in 2014, very few companies were involved in this area'.

"Given these developments, we've decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer".

Nevertheless, Facebook is continuing with other connectivity initiatives, such as its Terragraph Project, which aims to replace fibre broadband in urban areas with high-speed wireless interconnected nodes. The company said it is still working with Airbus on HAPS technologies that control computers and high-density batteries.

The solar-powered Aquila had the wingspan of a Boeing 737.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, project Aquila will not be the revolutionary technological success Facebook was hoping for. Facebook successfully built a drone in 2015, and conducted full-scale test flights - with mixed results.

Aquila was originally created as part of Facebook's Internet.org initiative, which Facebook said earlier this year had connected about 100 million people to the Internet. The drone's main goal was to provide internet access in remote areas through a "High Altitude Platform Station", an aircraft with multiple transmitters which enable users based in remote areas to access the internet.

The team attempted to land the craft on a new kevlar-based pad in a second flight in 2017, though it still sustained significant damage.

The announcement comes a day after a report from Business Insider revealing that Cox had left Facebook in May.

In testing the drone managed 90 minutes in the air, but ultimately paled in comparison to technology developed by rival Silicon Valley firms. Since the program was relatively low-priced for a company Facebook's size, the tests must have been a catastrophe.

Facebook also said it was working with Airbus on HAPSs in November a year ago. Additionally, according to their statement, "On the policy front, we'll be working on a proposal for 2019 World Radio Conference to get more spectrum for HAPS [High altitude platform stations], and we'll be actively participating in a number of aviation advisory boards and rule-making committees in the USA and internationally".



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