Facebook halts production of drones for internet delivery

While Project Aquila is grounded forever, Maguire said that the company's ambition of connecting the next 4bn people will continue to soar.

The Aquila drone weighed in at 400kg, and was created to fly between 60,000ft and 90,000ft, so as to avoid adverse weather conditions and commercial air routes.

And it looks as though that may happen with Facebook stating it has seen, "leading companies in the aerospace industry start investing in this technology ... including the design and construction of new high-altitude aircraft". Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg made that abundantly clear in a blog post in the summer of 2016 in which he listed numerous hurdles that had to be overcome.

Facebook is ending a program launched in 2014 to build a fleet of drones that could deliver internet to underserved areas of the world. The company said in a blog post Tuesday it will no longer design or build its own aircraft to beam internet connectivity over regions with limited access, a project it has been working on since 2014.

The decision means the closure of a facility in Bridgwater, UK, that had been used to build the technology.

Now, instead of building aircraft of its own, Facebook says it will now focus on working with partners on high-altitude internet delivery systems and on policy matters related to securing spectrum and establishing federal rules around the operation of such systems.

But designing the Aquila drone, which at 42 meters featured a wingspan wider than that of a Boeing 737, was clearly a huge challenge.

Maguire added that Facebook will continue to its work with Airbus on High-Altitude Platform System (HAPS) connectivity more generally, as part of the deal it signed with the airplane maker in November a year ago.

To top it off, the first test flight landed Facebook in a media firestorm after it kept mum that it had crashed upon landing.

The project is being developed by X, the experimental research arm of Google parent company Alphabet.

The announcement is a step back from what had been an ambitious, yet troubled, project.

Business Insider reports that this has led to the layoff of about 16 people at the site.

Internal emails revealed that Andrew Cox, head of the project, and Martin Gomez, Facebook's director of aeronautical platforms, both left the company in May.

Facebook not only lays out details of the global internet problem but also discusses initiatives to solve it.

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