Facebook has scrapped four years of drone development and returned to square one due to technical and geographical limitations.
The social media giant has ended development of its Aquila program, a drone-based scheme to deliver internet and Facebook access to an estimated four billion people around the world who currently do not have access.
In a blog post, a spokesperson for the company wrote: “Part of that investment has been in developing next-generation connectivity technologies like Aquila, a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system. This has involved a lot of trial and error.
“When we started the Aquila program back in 2014, very few companies were involved in this area — and they were all working independently of one other. In addition, the only spectrum available for these platforms wasn’t suitable for broadband due to technical and geographical limitations.
“We decided to start from scratch and invest in the building blocks needed to make this technology work — most important of all, the aircraft. To increase our chances of success we took on every part of our aircraft’s design, development, and testing, work that was led by our team in Bridgwater, UK.”
In 2015, Facebook announced that its first full-scale model of Aquila was complete and ready for flight testing.