Facebook pushes on with drone trial - Mobile World Live

Facebook pushes on with drone trial

30 JUN 2017

Facebook completed the second test of its Aquila solar-powered aircraft, intended to provide broadband coverage to unconnected areas, including a successful landing.

The test took place last month, the social network giant said, with Aquila flying for 1 hour and 46 minutes before landing “perfectly” at the prepared site. This is significant, as an earlier test, which involved a 90 minute flight, ended with a “structural failure just seconds before landing”, which led to additional wing damage.

“Connecting people through high-altitude solar-powered aircraft is an audacious goal, but milestones like this flight make the months of hard work worth it,” the company noted in a blog post.

“In the coming months, we’re excited to take the lessons from our successful second flight to continue the Aquila programme’s progress to help bring the world closer together through connectivity,” it continued.

While the second test is significant, there is still some way to go before it is clear that Aquila can succeed in its goal to provide broadband connectivity in hard-to-reach areas. According to reports last year, the company is in talks with various governments to conduct connectivity trials in 2018 – with India a possible market.

Such talks will need to address issues such as the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in and across country border areas.

And Facebook is not the only company working in this field. Google is piloting a project using balloons, called Project Loon, having stopped its investigation into the potential of drones.


Steve Costello

Steve works across all of Mobile World Live’s channels and played a lead role in the launch and ongoing success of our apps and devices services. He has been a journalist...More

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