Around-the-clock internet access has changed our lives significantly – in this modern age of telecommunications, we can rummage the web for information, communicate with anyone, and endlessly entertain ourselves virtually anytime with the least possible effort.
We might be taking this luxury for granted now but did you know that 4 billion people in the world still do not have internet access at all? Yep, that’s about two-thirds of the human population!
It’s no wonder big data companies who have it in their best interest to get more people online are pushing hard to make it a reality. It’s a big technological effort, for sure, but is it even feasible to blanket the world with usable internet bandwidth?
With the right resources and proper engineering know-how, it sure is. Unfortunately, the social media giant that has the most ambitious plans is bailing out.
Think what you may about this company’s motives but it is downright disappointing that one of the most high flying internet projects out there has been grounded.
Facebook’s Project Aquila
Facebook has confirmed that it is abandoning its ambitious plan of delivering internet via its own high altitude drones.
First announced in 2014 under the name Project Aquila, the company’s vision was to build a fleet of giant solar-powered drones that are capable of flying 60,000 feet in the air for 90 days without landing. With the help of lasers, the drones will then beam down internet access to developing nations and other remote areas in the world.
How big is the Aquila drone? According to Facebook, the Aquila has a wingspan that’s wider than a Boeing 737. Despite that size, it should weigh fewer than 1,000 pounds or around the same weight as a grand piano.
Facebook has already conducted two test flights of the Aquila prototype but the craft reportedly suffered substantial structural damage in 2016 while landing.
Considering the scale and ambition of this project, Facebook admitted that it still had to solve numerous engineering challenges to make this a reality. Now, it looks like these challenges are not worth solving in-house, after all.
Due to the Aquila Project’s closure, Facebook is now shutting down its Aquila drone facility in Bridgewater, U.K.
Do you want to see the Aquila drone in action? Check out this video.
Is there a Plan B?
Now that Project Aquila is scrapped, does Facebook have alternate plans for fulfilling its vision of delivering internet to all four corners of the earth?
Well, it looks like instead of developing its own aircraft, Facebook will now partner with other leading aerospace companies to continue its ambitious attempts to blanket the world with data.
In fact, Facebook announced last year that it is already working with aeronautical company Airbus in the development of internet delivery systems that can be integrated into airplanes instead.
This means that instead of having Facebook develop them independently, Project Aquila and its fascinating technology may live on with these partnerships in the future and Facebook’s internet drone project might live on and see another day, after all.
What do you think? Was Project Aquila a waste of Facebook’s resources or is it, in fact, a springboard for future investments? Drop us a comment!