When trading stocks online, make sure you take note of potential technological leaps made by companies that could give them an edge in the market and potentially raise their stock value. One such technological leap is the ambitious Aquila drone Internet project by Facebook ($FB). However, it has paused a bit.
Facebook's Aquila drone project, with which it intends to experiment with providing Internet in remote locations, had hit a snag on June 28, 2016. The drone crashed, and now it has prompted a safety investigation.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that the drone encountered a "structural failure" as it approached Yuma, Arizona, causing it to crash and incur significant damage. However, $FB has viewed Aquila's test flight a success saying that it has already learnt a good deal from it before its crash.
The drone has a weight of less than 1,000 pounds with a 138-foot wingspan that makes it larger than certain passenger jets. It is expected to stay in the sky for up to 90 days during each flight. At the flight after which the crash occurred, Aquila was on air for 96 minutes only. But it was more than the period the team had planned for that particular flight. Facebook has not provided any specific details as to what caused the crash other than calling it a "structural failure". It did say that the engineers have been analyzing the test results. But a watchdog for air safety in the US has begun to investigate the crash.
There could be more trouble for $FB if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tightens regulations regarding drones. It is working on regulations governing the commercial use of small drones that weigh around 55 pounds or less and fly below 400 feet. But there are no rules governing much bigger drones such as the Aquila that can fly at altitudes much higher than the 400 feet limit of small drones. It could take years for such rules to be framed by the FAA, though all across the drone industry there is significant pressure for faster action by the federal government. The Aquila crash could hasten things up, but it could also end up with tighter and constraining rules.
At stake for Facebook are its reputation and its dream of providing broadband Internet access to 1.6 billion people living in rural areas with no mobile network access.
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