In a previous article earlier last year, Facebook talked about backing out of their ambitious drone project. Their project, the Aquila drone, was to beam internet connections to nearby areas while flying. The plan was for the drone (and lots of it) to fly around the world, providing free internet to devices in their wide range. These drones have solar panels ready on their exteriors, providing them with an additional power source. In theory, they could fly for months – or years – at a time without landing for refueling.
That idea – that dream – came to a crashing halt halfway through last year. Facebook decided that, with the increasing competition of similar drone ideas, and less than satisfactory tests, they are shutting the project down. While it was all still in its early infancy stages, people may have hoped that a world surrounded by drones was the future.
Facebook Idea Revisited
This January, the buzz around the Aquila drones started again. Reports circulated involving a joint effort between Facebook and another company – Airbus. The company Airbus, itself, has a massive drone already in the works. The Zephyr drone last year broke the record for longest continued flight at 25 days. The Zephyr drone has a lot of similarities with Facebook’s Aquila. They both aim for longer flight times, and they use solar panels to gather energy.
The main glaring difference the two can be found in their function. Aquila wants to deliver internet connection, while Zephyr is more of a temporary satellite. The Zephyr looks stronger with each passing day, as tests surfacing all show positive results. The Aquila on the other hand experienced crashes and underwhelming results.
Why would Facebook revisit an idea when it clearly was not meeting expectations? Facebook themselves mentioned that the idea may not be in their reach, as they lack the expertise on the subject. It seems that their solution to this lack of technical support is to team up with an actual transport company in Airbus.