First landing for Facebook Aquila Internet Drone – sUAS News


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I had to smile when the landing was made prominent in Martin Luis Gomez blog update which details the successful second flight of Aquilla. It took a little while for The Facebook internet drone team to fess up to the approach incident at the end of the first flight.

Once again, go team Somerset !

Martin Luis Gomez account Just after dawn on May 22, Facebook reached another exciting and important milestone for the Aquila program — completing the successful second full-scale test flight of the aircraft. The aircraft flew for 1 hour and 46

Just after dawn on May 22, Facebook reached another exciting and important milestone for the Aquila program — completing the successful second full-scale test flight of the aircraft. The aircraft flew for 1 hour and 46 minutes and landed perfectly on our prepared landing site.

In order to launch right after sunrise, which was at 5:15 am, we showed up at the gate to Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona at 12:30 am. While some members of the team began to open the hangar and lift the aeroplane onto its takeoff dolly, the rest of us prepared the ground control station and engineering station. And pretty much everybody studied the wind forecast.

Aquila’s second test flight took into account the lessons we learned from our first flight. In advance of the second flight, we incorporated a number of modifications to Aquila, including:

  • Adding “spoilers” to the wings, which help to increase drag and reduce lift during the landing approach
  • Incorporating hundreds of sensors to gather new data
  • Modifying the autopilot software
  • Integrating new radios for the communication subsystem
  • Applying a smoother finish on the plane
  • Installing a horizontal propeller stopping mechanism to support a successful landing

I shall leave the but bit for now…

Google is pulling ahead with Project Loon. I have been watching a group of Loons launched in May to create emergency communications in flood hit Peru.

The balloons are still flying and no doubt multiple experiments are taking place, Google X seems to be nailing the steering. To distribute 100 balloons at high altitude to circle a hemisphere seems to be becoming straightforward.

Google is also directing landings into areas where the can recover the electronics and fly them again. Much like Space X’s reusable launchers, but an order of many magnitudes cheaper.

Am I beginning to gush too much? This is a hare and the tortoise race and so far the tortoise is plodding around the world gathering hundreds and hundreds of hours of research data.

Google X will be solving problems Facebook has not discovered yet.



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