Facebook Drops Its Drone Project

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Facebook Drops Its Drone Project

Aquila was aimed to deliver Internet to almost four billion people in remote parts of the world.

'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.

"Given these developments, we've decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer", Facebook engineering director Yael Maguire wrote in the blog post.

Aquila's history at Facebook was mixed.

He said: "It's been exciting to see leading companies in the aerospace industry start investing in this technology too - including the design and construction of new high-altitude aircraft".

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Facebook has officially dropped a plan to build and launch autonomous drones to bring internet connectivity to now under-served communities, having been working on the project since 2014.

Aquila's aim was to bring internet access to the estimated four billion people living in areas of the world where the infrastructure isn't in place to offer it. Facebook's idea was to utilize a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system to fill the gap.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds a propeller pod of the solar-powered Aquila drone on stage during a keynote at the Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco, California April 12, 2016.

Increasing innovation in HAPS connectivity efforts has meant that Facebook's planes were failing to meet the long flight times managed by similar projects from rivals like Google's Project Loon, which used high-altitude balloons instead of drones. Facebook based Aquila on the work of the UK-based drone research company Ascenta, which Facebook acquired in 2014-incorporating the operation into the company's Connectivity Lab and Internet.org project.

"Going forward, we'll continue to work with partners like Airbus on HAPS connectivity generally, and on the other technologies needed to make this system work, like flight control computers and high-density batteries", Maguire added. Almost two years later, Facebook has canceled the project.

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