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Facebook’s Aquila Drone Has Successfully Completed its Second Trial

Facebook’s autonomous drone Aquila has successfully completed its second test flight, bringing the Menlo Park company closer to its goal of using unmanned aircraft to provide internet connection to far-flung corners of the world.

Solar-powered Aquila carried out its second trial on May 22, almost twelve months after the previous test, and managed to land smoothly— a substantial improvement from last year’s crash-landing, which several damaged the craft.

“[Aquila] flew for 1 hour and 46 minutes, and landed perfectly on our prepared landing site,” Facebook’s  Martin Luis Gomez wrote in a blog post.


While Aquila is monumentally large—its wingspan is comparable to a Boeing 737’s— it is also extremely low-consumption, requiring only 5,000 watts at cruising speed.

As per Facebook’s plans, Aquila would be able to beam connectivity via lasers and millimetre wave systems, serving an area of up to 100 km in diameter while flying at an altitude of 18 kilometres.

Facebook intends each autonomous drone to keep flying for about three months without landing— a result that, if achieved, would shatter all current records for unmanned solar-powered flight.

“In the coming months, we’re excited to take the lessons from our successful second flight to continue the Aquila program’s progress to help bring the world closer together through connectivity,” Luis Gomez added.

Image via Facebook


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