Facebook has patented a high-tech drone that uses a unique apparatus to stay afloat.
The filing, titled ‘Dual-kite aerial vehicle,’ describes an unmanned aerial vehicle that is attached to two kites and can be flown at different altitudes.
The kites allow the drone to remain in the air for an extended period of time ‘while consuming little or no fuel,’ according to the patent.
The drone is attached to the two kites via a tether, which are each able to maintain flight at different altitudes.
It’s equipped with a flight control system so that it can change directions, altitude, speed, pitch, ‘angle of attack’ and other movements.
The patent was filed in November 2018 but was only made public on Thursday.
Facebook goes on to say in the patent that the drone would be cheaper and more lightweight than traditional aerial vehicles.
‘The dual-kite aerial vehicle reduces fuel consumption by converting various environmental forces to electrical energy to power components of the dual-kite aerial vehicle,’ the patent states.
‘…As mentioned above, reducing fuel consumption in this way reduces an overall weight of the dual-kite aerial vehicle as well as costs associated with storing and consuming fuel for powering the dual-kite aerial vehicle, thereby reducing overall cost of operation of the dual-kite aerial vehicle.’
Like most patents, it’s unclear if the technology described by Facebook therein will ever make it to fruition.
Should Facebook build the UAV, however, it wouldn’t mark the company’s first foray into drones.
Last June, Facebook quietly ended its plans to launch solar-powered drones as part of its Project Aquila initiative.
With Project Aquila no more, the company is now working with Airbus to test drones in Australia.
Facebook and Airbus planned to conduct tests at Wyndham Airfield in Western Australia last November and December, using Airbus’ pioneering solar-powered ‘Zephyr’ drone.