August 26, 2019
Facebook recently announced that it would no longer be developing its own high-flying, solar-powered drones to deliver Internet to remote areas of the world, and would instead be relying on hardware from established aviation companies.
Facebook subsequently filed a patent application for a “dual-kite aerial vehicle” – i.e., a kite-powered drone – which suggests that the company might still have an interest in creating its own LTE service hardware.
The “dual-kite aerial vehicle” consists of two kites that are positioned at different altitudes but are tethered together. Facebook’s new design does not have much in common with its previous prototypes for a kite-powered drone, which have included a 900-pound drone made of carbon fiber.
The latest patent application claims that the new vehicle can overcome a host of issues that have traditionally challenged drones, such as the need to refuel or recharge periodically and poor performance in unpredictable flight conditions. Facebook’s proposed drone will apparently address these issues by self-generating energy to extend flight time and by having two kite apparatuses that can cooperatively maintain a gradient air movement at different altitudes.
Authors: Larissa Fulop and Jay Piett