Facebook abandons drones connectivity project

Written by NTN staff

Facebook has taken a U-turn on plans to launch and use drones to provide internet connectivity in remote regions. Instead it will work with partners like Airbus.

The so-called Aquila project started in 2014, which saw Facebook plan high-altitude, solar-powered drones aimed at connecting underserved regions and areas affected by natural disasters.

Facebook said the decision was made in mind with leading aerospace companies now investing in similar technologies, it would instead collaborate on their projects. But it noted that its project made significant progress in both drone design, through its development centre in the UK, and in perfecting the connectivity technology needed to run high-altitude systems.

As a result, Facebook plans to continue to work with aviation industry bodies and international regulators on securing spectrum for drone connectivity thanks to progress made with regulators on spectrum and aviation policy.

“It’s been exciting to see leading companies in the aerospace industry start investing in this technology. Given these developments, we’ve decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer and to close our facility.

“Going forward, we’ll continue to work with partners like Airbus on HAPS [high altitude pseudo satellite] connectivity generally, and on the other technologies needed to make this system work, like flight control computers and high-density batteries.”