Facebook files patent for unusual kite-powered drone

Social networking giant Facebook has filed a patent for an unusual drone called "dual-kite aerial vehicle" that would use kites to stay aloft.

The design shows the drone composed of two kites tethered together and floating at different altitudes. Each kite could be directed independently, and the drone could generate its own energy to extend its flight time, The Verge reported on Thursday.

This prototype design looks more like the balloons that Google's parent company Alphabet has used for its Loon connectivity programme.

This design has little in common with Facebook's known drone prototypes although it may have the same purpose: boosting or providing Internet service in hard-to-reach areas, the report said.

Last year, Facebook seemingly got out of the drone design business saying that it would continue the Aquila project with hardware from established aviation companies.

The Aquila, which it tested with mixed results in 2016, was a 900-pound winged aircraft made of carbon fibre. A lower-profile experimental program called Catalina reportedly used low-altitude bird-sized drones.

This patent application was filed roughly five months after that announcement. It includes claims that cover providing Internet access with the kite drone.

As with all patents, it remains discreet whether Facebook is actually building this system, the report added.
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