Facebook discontinued last year a small helicopter drone project that could temporarily replace cellular services in emergency situations, The Verge reported. The project was discontinued a few months after being shown off at the F8 developer conference in May of 2017, said the report on Monday.
“Tether-tenna was a proof of concept project we were evaluating when we discussed it at F8 in early 2017,” a spokesperson for Facebook was quoted as saying. “It wasn’t something we pursued further as we chose to focus our efforts on continued development and advancement of our Terragraph, millimeter-wave, and HAPS (high altitude platform station) programmes,” the Facebook spokesperson added.
The idea was to send a helicopter equipped with telecommunications equipment hundreds of metres up in the air to be able to tether to fiber and power lines in places where wireless capacity was compromised due to disaster or other factors. The Tether-tenna is, however, not the only aerial Internet project that Facebook has abandoned in recent times.
In June this year, Facebook announced it decided to abandon its plan to develop high-flying solar-powered drones called Aquila that was aimed to deliver Internet to nearly four billion people in remote parts of the world. A high altitude platform station (HAPS) system, Aquila’s mission, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was to connect the world and help people who do not have online access all the opportunities of the Internet.
Facebook began Aquila project in 2014. In 2017, the solar-powered drone successfully completed the second full-scale test flight. Tether-tenna was a much smaller scale idea compared to Aquila.