Facebook won’t be beaming internet from giant drones after all
30 June, 2018, 17:40
Facebook is scrapping its plans to build a high-altitude solar-powered drone that would have delivered internet access to the developing world.
Maguire further said that Facebook would continue to "invest in developing next-generation technologies like Terragraph", a new broadband tech which utilizes a V-band spectrum at 60GHz that enables multi-Gbps fiber-like speed, wirelessly.
In a post, director of engineering at the company, Yael Maguire, writes that Facebook has seen companies in the aerospace industry investing in this technology as well.
Facebook announced back in November of past year that it was working with Airbus to develop better versions of what are known as high-altitude platform station, or HAPS, systems that can be built into aircraft to beam down the high-speed internet.
The first test flight in Arizona in June 2016 launched and flew as expected, though turbulence before touchdown resulted in the drone landing short of the runway and receiving damage to the right wing in the process.
After its acquisition by Facebook, Ascenta's engineers worked hard and by 2015 they unveiled a solar powered drone with the wingspan of a Boeing 737.
Buried in a report written by an executive in Facebook Inc.'s (NASDAQ: FB) Connectivity Lab was a statement that it would dump its drone program. It's not clear what will happen to the company and its technology now.
Insider reported separately that as part of the shutdown of the program, Facebook has closed its drone development center in the United Kingdom and has laid off 16 employees who had been working on the program.
Facebook is now teaming with Airbus, the company that bought Zephyr. In 2017, the solar-powered drone successfully completed the second full-scale test flight.
Using a laser-based communications system, it would direct a ground-based internet signal to a mother aircraft, which would then daisy-chain the connection to other drones gliding around the area.
Facebook says it plans to "actively" participate in various aviation advisory boards, as well as rule-making committees, both internationally and within the United States.
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