The sparrow-sized drones were named Catalina, after an island that used pigeon carriers frequently in the past
For years, Facebook has been trying to find out ways to better mobile connectivity and enable more and more people from developed countries to remain connected online. While this is mostly a humanitarian effort, there are chances of it being a ploy to get more people to use the social media application.
Some of the most visible of those efforts could be the Internet.org initiative that offered ‘free basics’ and ‘express WiFi’ to the fast-expanding smartphone markets. The other such initiative was the Aquila project, which has now been discontinued. It sought to fly huge, solar-powered drones that could provide internet access on the go.
However, these were not all. Turns out, Facebook was secretly working on another method that involved tiny, bird-sized drones, which were capable of boosting smartphone internet speed, according to a report by The Verge. Codenamed “Catalina” after an island near California, that was known for using a carrier pigeon network, the project was halted a year ago, a Facebook spokesperson said.
A Business Insider report states, however, that the drones were tinier than pigeons, more like the size of a sparrow, nearly pocket-sized. The goal of the miniscule machine was not to provide internet access to remote areas, but to better the existing, 2G-level connections so that smartphone users could stream videos and perform more data-intensive tasks.
The drones were designed to carry “high-density solid-state drives... that could then be used to ferry data”, meaning they would act as a mesh network between a connection and a smartphone to enable higher-bandwidth data transmission.Nonetheless, Facebook abandoned both the drone enabled speed augmenters -- Aquila and Catalina.
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