In a June 26 blog post, Facebook's Yael Maguire announced the social media giant was officially ending its program for high-altitude, solar-powered drones that aimed to provide a backbone for rural Internet access.
Called Aquila, the system was based off of the work of Ascenta, a drone research company based in the UK that Facebook acquired in 2014. The Aquila drones would have used laser communication links to talk to each other and thus create a high-altitude platform station (HAPS) through which Internet connectivity would then be provided to stations on the ground. However, after just two test flights, Facebook has decided that there are other companies that would be better suited to exploring this technology.
“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 stated in the blog post.