In 2016 Facebook had the ambitious plan to use massive solar powered drones to fly all over the globe and beam down internet connectivity to regions that lacked the necessary infrastructure or simply did not have the required penetration.
According to a report from German publication NetzPolitik, new life has been breathed into Aquila, with Airbus said to be coming in to assist Facebook.
This comes as Airbus test drones were spotted in the Australian Outback, with NetzPolitik utilising the country’s Freedom of Information Act to obtain a document that both Airbus and Facebook have been in talks since last year, with planned flights scheduled for November and December of 2018.
While neither have confirmed whether this report is true, it is believed that Airbus’ Zephyr drone was the solar powered vehicle used for testing, with the drone being used previously by Airbus for humanitarian aid work.
Should these two companies be collaborating, it appears as if the Zephyr drone would replace the Aquila one that Facebook engineered, with the former featuring a similar HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo Satellite), as well as being able to fly for months at a time.
More specifically TechCrunch adds that the Model S version that Facebook has supposedly chosen, is capable of reaching a 20km high altitude, has a 25 metre long wingspan and can broadcast millimeter-wave radio frequencies to the ground.
With Facebook having a number of different projects in play to try to bring internet access to area sin Asia and Africa, we’re hoping this particular drone collaboration yields dividends and the pair can begin beaming down connectivity soon.
For now we’ll have to wait for either to officially comment, or for more compelling test footage from the Australian Outback to surface.