Facebook filed a patent for an unusual drone that would use kites to stay up. The "dual-kite aerial vehicle" is composed of two kites tied together and floating at different heights. Each pilot could be independently controlled, and the drone could generate its own energy to extend its flight time. As with all patents, we do not know whether Facebook builds this system. But it indicates a continuing interest in experimental aircraft, even after Facebook had scaled back its earlier well-publicized Aquila project.
Facebook's patent was filed in November 2018. It claims that the kite drone would work on more aircraft or helicopter-like designs by reducing the weight, costs and dimensions needed to make an aircraft fly for a long time – although they could still do this quite big, because Facebook calls a mile long tether. Drone fleets could be operated wirelessly from the ground and the drones could generate power via solar panels or tether movements.
This design has little in common with Facebook's well-known drone prototypes, although it may have the same purpose: to stimulate or offer internet service in hard-to-reach places. The Aquila, which he tested with mixed results in 2016, was a 900-pound winged aircraft made of carbon fiber. A less well-known experimental program, called Catalina, reportedly used drones at bird height. This is more like the balloons that Google & # 39; s parent company Alphabet used for its Pay connectivity program.
Facebook apparently left the drone design department last summer and said it would continue the Aquila project with hardware from established airlines. This patent application was filed about five months after that announcement. It includes claims that relate to internet access with the kite drones.
Again, this does not mean that Facebook is building this drone, or that it is actually a better design than more traditional options. And Facebook's attempts to distribute internet access worldwide have proven to be controversial – so even if the design is great, that might not be the case want to launch a fleet of Facebook flyers. But since it has previously been collaborated with companies such as Airbus, you can't imagine the company working together on new antenna systems.