From the very start, Facebook’s primary mission has always been to find means to provide internet services across the globe and connect each and every individual to build a larger community. One of the projects aiming to solve the scarcity of wireless networks in remote areas is the solar-powered internet-beaming drone ‘Aquila,’ being developed by the social media giant.
Earlier this year, the company was extremely joyous to report that they’ve successfully completed the first test flight of the Aquila internet drone. But the drone suffered a ‘structural failure’ while coming down for a landing after a 90-minute glide in the atmosphere. Facebook had then stated that they were looking into the extended test results to examine the failure but it seems they aren’t the only one concerned about the ‘supposed’ design flaw. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also launched an investigation into the said failure, reports Bloomberg.
The involvement of the NTSB in the investigation of the internet drone’s failure could be the reason, the social media giant hasn’t shared any updates with regard to failure until today. In a statement received by the publication, Facebook reiterates,
We were happy with the successful first test flight and were able to verify several performance models and components including aerodynamics, batteries, control systems and crew training, with no major unexpected results.
Citing sources close to the development, TechCrunch mentions, some damage to the Aquila drone was expected as the same hasn’t been designed for repeat takeoffs and landings. There is a lack of landing gear and it only sports skids to help it land safely. It also seems that the crash landing was certainly substantial as the NTSB has classified the failure as an accident. Though there was no harm done by the crash of the internet drone, the involvement of NTSB in this incident is sure to cause a stir and delay in the company’s plans.
Also, this isn’t the first hiccup in the company’s plan to beam internet and connect communities across the world with high-speed wireless services — via Internet.org or Free Basics. Previously, Facebook suffered a major setback when one of its Internet.org satellites blew up on the launch pad along with SpaceX’s unexpected Falcon 9 explosion.
Mark Zuckerberg had then said that he was ‘deeply disappointed’ with the loss of the satellite which was gonna beam internet to remote areas of Africa. Earlier this year, the company has also faced backlash over the distribution of free services in our country, India. The govt. had then instructed Facebook to discontinue its Free Basics service in the country. Thus, setting back its plan of connecting one of the largest markets around the world.
We’ve contacted Facebook for more clarity over the failure and will update you once we hear back from them.