Facebook terminates solar-powered flying wing project


Menlo Park - Last week Facebook announced that it terminated the Aquila project, a huge, solar-powered wing-shaped drone designed to enable internet access in the remote parts of the world.

The news was posted on Facebook's Code blog, in a post written by the company's engineering director, Yael Maguire, who also announced the closure of the facility in Bridgwater, UK, where Aquila was built.

In the future, we will continue to work with partners such as Airbus on HAPS (High AltitudePseudo-Satellite ) and the other technologies needed to make this system work, such as flight control computers and high-density batteries,
wrote Maguire.

Facebook's Aquila was set to operate at altitudes of about 60,000 feet (18,288 km) to 90,000 feet (27,432 km) to provide wireless internet connection to users living in the remote areas of the globe.

Each aircraft would be controlled by internet data from a mother ship using an optical-laser communication system. The company suggested that only one Aquila could provide internet coverage within a 50-kilometer radius for up to 90 days.

The Aquila project was launched as Facebook bought the British company Ascenta in 2014. Despite four years of investment and development, the aircraft flew only twice in the Arizona desert, in the United States.

The inaugural flight took place in June 2016 and ended with an accident at the landing. The second flight was considered successful, despite the team had reported problems with the electric motors.