Facebook Shuts Down Solar-Powered Internet Drone Project: So What Happens Now?

Facebook officially ditches its efforts to deliver high-speed internet via solar-powered drones. The decision reportedly caused 16 employees from the project to lose their jobs.

Taking Another Approach

Sources confirm that in its place, the social network company plans to redirect its resources in order to work with partners such as Airbus. Together, both hope to develop high altitude platform stations (HAPS). Project Aquila was the name assigned to it when the original attempt started in 2014. The team was able to push for two public test flights wherein the first one managed to damage the prototype aircraft.

Even though there are rumors that anything related to the drone project will be halted, insiders suggest otherwise. An update issued by the company revealed that it will continue work on its goal to deliver high-speed internet access to impoverished nations. Moreover, all things related to the design and construction of all future drones will be delegated to third parties instead.

An Idea Created At Its Peak

According to analysts, the Aquila project is an idea that is possible with enough support. This means that everything related to the solar-powered drone technology and its goal might have been too ambitious for Facebook to handle on its own. Nevertheless, a majority of people reacted positively to the company’s plan regarding the delivery of high-speed internet access to isolated communities.

Other opinions suggest that it would be cost-friendly and cheaper to establish an infrastructure that will support fiber, yet it remains to be seen if the ideas that come up with the help of other companies can sustain and meet its goals.

“As we’ve worked on these efforts, it’s been exciting to see leading companies in the aerospace industry start investing in this technology too — including the design and construction of new high-altitude aircraft,” wrote Facebook’s Yael Maguire on the blog post. “Given these developments, we’ve decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer and to close our facility in Bridgwater.”

Making A Bold Decision

It is currently unclear what Facebook plans to do with the technology from the solar-powered drone project. Meanwhile, a representative from the social network firm notes that despite its closure, the Aquila project managed to create advancements in certain key areas of aerospace design.

The goal to make high-speed internet access accessible to everyone is still an active goal for the development team. In fact, sources confirm that the company continues to invest in other technology that can help make it a reality.