Facebook abandoned helicopter drone mission months after first demo


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The Aquila drone isn’t basically the most uncomplicated aerial recordsdata superhighway mission Facebook abandoned within the final year. The Tether-tenna, a exiguous helicopter drone that can presumably presumably also temporarily change cell provider in emergency eventualities, became once discontinued just a few months after being shown off at the F8 developer convention in Might presumably also of 2017, the company has confirmed to The Verge.

“Tether-tenna became once a proof of concept mission we had been evaluating once we discussed it at F8 in early 2017,” a spokesperson for Facebook stated. “It wasn’t something we pursued extra as we selected to focal level our efforts on persisted construction and construction of our Terragraph, millimeter-wave, and HAPS [high altitude platform station] programs. We engage in a series of proof of concept initiatives fancy this one as they’re huge studying vehicles for our connectivity teams.”

Yael Maguire, who runs Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, described the concept that at F8 final year in entrance of a video of the Tether-tenna prototype that showed it capture off, hover, and land. The root became once that the helicopter would possibly presumably presumably be ready to tether to fiber and energy lines in locations the set cell infrastructure became once broken, hover skyward, and broadcast a signal from hundreds of ft up within the air.

Facebook provided the antenna for Tether-tenna, but the helicopter drone that the company showed within the video at F8 became once mostly constructed by a exiguous startup called Everfly, which had been spun out of a analysis innovation firm called Otherlab, primarily based mostly on a Recode document from final year.

“What Facebook knowledgeable you is completely, they did nothing more with [Tether-tenna] following what they showed at F8,” Mikell Taylor, who served as CEO of Everfly, stated in a message to The Verge. “The community at Otherlab that worked on the FB mission tried to creep out a startup specializing in commercializing that expertise for more customary telecommunications capabilities, but we couldn’t assemble any traction with funding and the team parted programs final summer.” Everfly disbanded later that summer.

Maguire stated on the F8 stage that the hope with Tether-tenna became once that it would possibly well possibly presumably presumably also present “connectivity to of us who most need it” for “months at a time,” and that the drone had already flown for 24 hours straight. But he furthermore stated that it became once “within the early stages of construction,” and that there were challenges — particularly because Tether-tenna became once working with high voltage lines — that can presumably presumably also assemble within the vogue.

Tether-tenna became once a considerable smaller scale concept when in contrast to Aquila, which alive to ultra-light assert voltaic-powered drones that had been bigger than a 737, and beamed recordsdata superhighway to the ground the employ of lasers. But backing faraway from both is a signal that, while Facebook gentle thinks aerial recordsdata superhighway is price exploration, the company doesn’t are seeking to address the aerial hardware aspect of the equation.

When the dying of the Aquila mission became once announced at the stop of June, Maguire wrote in a weblog post that Facebook as a change wishes to partner on high-altitude recordsdata superhighway shipping programs going forward. This permits Facebook to focal level on things it’s more conversant in, he wrote, fancy working with the authorities, facing policy issues, and fixing concerns more right this moment linked to the connectivity being provided.

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