The solar-powered plane Aquila, which is to bring Internet access to remote regions, is a prestigious project by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The first flight ended with a broken landing – now it went better.
Facebook’s Internet drone has flown for the second time after the break-up during the first flight. The Aquila was landed safely in the Arizona desert after 106 minutes of flight, founder and chief of Mark Zuckerberg wrote on the night of Friday.
Even after the first flight almost a year ago, the online network had spoken of a success – only later was it known that the prototype had been severely damaged during the landing. This time, in the short video, published by Zuckerberg, you can see how “Aquila” sits on the ground with small sand clouds.
The drones are to remain autonomous in the month and provide access to the Internet in remote regions. Four billion people – more than half of the world’s population – are not yet on the net, emphasized Zuckerberg. “One day, Aquila will help change that.”
Facebook had recently cracked the milestone of two billion active members. Further growth is also hindered by the fact that many people are not on the Internet.
The online network also wants to bring it into the net with the initiative Internet.org for cheap or free Internet connections. Facebook, however, is countering the governments and skepticism of network operators. Some also emphasize that many people lived in areas where there was the Internet – they could not afford it.
Meanwhile, it was announced earlier this year that Google-parent Alphabet had given up plan to use their competitive project, large drones for supplying Internet services. The technical challenges are too great.
Alphabet continues to pursue the goal of building an Internet supply from the air. The “Loon” ballons of the company are better suited for this than the drones, they said. Google had bought 2014 the drones developer Titan Aerospace, which also wanted by Facebook.
On their first flight in July 2016, the Facebook drone stayed in the air for an hour and a half hours instead of the scheduled test duration of 30 minutes.
At the landing approach, there was then strong turbulence, according to a report from American crash investigators – and a wrong decision of the autopilot software resulted in a several meter long section of the wing broke. Seconds later, the drone hit the ground at a speed of about 45 kilometers per hour. Facebook stressed at the time that they had valuable experience in the flight and will correct the error.