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News Facebook drops drone-based broadband project

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by bit-tech, 27 Jun 2018.

  1. bit-tech

    bit-tech Supreme Overlord Staff Administrator

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    Read more
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 27 Jun 2018
  2. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    Sounds like they're continuing the drone-based access point project, just canning the and-build-the-UAV-yourself bit.
     
  3. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    They're cancelling this specific drone-based broadband project; they are, as the article says, working with others in the industry on similar drone-based broadband projects. But not the one the article's about. Because they've cancelled that. Like the article says they did. Because they did. Cancel it, that is. The project. For homebrew drone-based broadband.

    If you wanted to nitpick, you should have picked up on the fact Bridgwater's spelt wrong in the description. <goes to edit>
     
  4. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    They've cancelled the 'build our own drone' bit, but they're continuing to work on the uplink/downlink PHY (a part that was never even put on the drone in the first place), uplink/downlink protocol, batteries, nav control law (for loitering within range of an area given varying wind conditions at varying altitudes and remaining within sunlight duration constraints for solar top-up), regulatory approval for uplink/downlink spectrum, and regulatory approval for long-duration autonomous flights, all under the Project Aquila banner. They're just going to continue doing all that with drones brought from someone else. As Facebook themselves say "We've talked previously about the first two test flights of our unmanned solar-powered HAPS aircraft and our work to develop new communication systems, but the Aquila program is also much more than just those two things." Project Aquila continues, just with CoTS drones.
     
  5. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    I'm assuming you read the lede, in bold at the very top of the article?
    Has Facebook dropped a plan to build and launch autonomous drones? Why yes. Yes, it has. Is Facebook investigating other drone projects that don't involve it building and launching autonomous drones? Why yes. Yes, it is.

    I think the article's pretty clear on both of those facts.
     
  6. lacuna

    lacuna Member

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    ROFL:ROFL:ROFL:ROFL
    _^___
    L __/ [] \
    LOL===__ \
    L \________]
    I I
    --------/
     
  7. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    My argument is with the title:
    Which is false. Project Aquila has not been dropped.
    And with the body:
    Which is false. Project Aquila has not been shut down, and Facebook's internal development of all other aspects continues in addition to the existing partnerships.
     
  8. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Project Aquila is not mentioned in the title, as you can see by the fact you've quoted it. As explained above, the title is absolutely one-hundred-percent accurate and truthful.
    You have stripped that of context, but if it makes you feel better I'll edit it to "the homebrew drone portion of Project Aquila, along with its Bridgwater office, is being officially shut down [...]"

    Now, if only you'd made yourself clear in the first place, eh? That could have been edited hours ago!
     
  9. Zak33

    Zak33 Staff Staff Administrator

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    //digs bunker

    //pulls out cold beer....

    //watches
     
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  10. Bede

    Bede Well-Known Member

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    Gareth I don't know why someone as experienced as you a) needs this explaining, b) is kicking off in the comments.

    "Facebook drops drone-based broadband project" is an eye-catching title. It implies Facebook has cancelled the program. What it has done in reality, as you explain in the fifth paragraph, is stop developing its own drones in favour of using third-party technology.

    Ditto your first paragraph is fairly interesting, and contains a couple of unsupported assertions - that FB will no longer launch drones, and that it is dropping the HAPS program altogether.
     
  11. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    I don't read it as that (but, then again, I know what I had in mind when I wrote it, which helps): I read it as "Facebook drops a drone-based broadband project," not "Facebook has dropped all drone-based broadband projects" (the singular, not the plural.) The project to build and launch its own drones to provide broadband access has, indeed, been dropped.
    The first paragraph says neither thing:
    If you mean the lede, that doesn't say either thing either:
    That does say it has dropped a plan, as per my intended interpretation of the headline, but does not say anything about "will no longer launch drones" nor "is dropping the HAPS programme altogether."

    I'm always willing to correct a piece if I've either made a mistake in my understanding (always possible) or what I've written isn't as clear as it should be (hell, that one's even likely), but I honestly can't see the issues you're raising. Could you quote the exact sentences from the article that you have a problem with - as edzieba did - and I'll see if I can't find a way to make what's actually written closer match what I thought I'd written.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2018
  12. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    The problem we have is that Facebook has a project for drone-based internet access (of which 'construct their own drone' was only a small part of) - Project Aquila - not multiple projects.
    Saying "Facebook drops drone-based broadband project" is akin to saying "Bit-tech drops forums" if it were to, say, close the marketplace subforum and move it to an external site. It's a catchy headline, but implies Bit-tech has dropped all its forums, rather than move one part of the forum to an external vendor. It's the same tactic that clickbait uses: a catchy headline that implies something big, but buries the actual news in a sentence in a paragraph somewhere near the bottom of the article.

    "Facebook cancels self-built broadband drone" would work just fine, or "Facebook outsources broadband drone production". Less catchy, but immediately and accurately communicates what has happened.
     
  13. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    And here I think we come to the core of the miscommunication: I see Project Aquila (capital P) as being made up of multiple projects (lower-case p) including homebrew drones (dropped).

    In fact, if we're getting technical, and this is absolutely not communicated properly in my article, Aquila refers exclusively to the homebrew drone: it was literally called Aquila. The rest of the Project (capital P) Facebook refers to as "HAPS" and not "Aquila." Thus Project Aquila has been dropped, but the HAPS project as a whole - which was born out of Aquila - has not. (Facebook, as far as I can tell, never actually referred to a Project Aquila - at least, I haven't been able to find that phraseology.)

    Thus, per Facebook's own naming convention, I could have written "Facebook drops Project Aquila" and still been correct: Aquila is dead, HAPS lives on.
    Again I have to disagree: your example only works because you've added the plural "forums," which as you say does suggest all forums have been dropped (though it could also mean more-than-one, but the natural interpretation would be all.) "Bit-Tech drops Marketplace forum" would be a closer match to the actual headline.
    Except the actual news is right there in the lede, in bold, so that's an unfair comparison. (And, as I always point out when someone throws around the term "clickbait," I have no incentive to use such methods: I'm not paid by traffic, I have no access to the analytics, and I have never - not once - been asked to change a headline to make it sexier or more alluring. The only thing I'm thinking when I'm writing a headline, which comes at the very end of the process a minute or two before I hit the go-button, is "how can I summarise this article without exceeding the very small character allowance?")
    The former I like, though I would still add "project" to the end (which would make it too long for the CMS); the latter I don't, because it has made no indication it has hired anyone to mass-produce drones - which your headline heavily implies it has. In fact, it has specifically stated that it's not doing that - "we’ve decided not to design or build our own aircraft any longer" - and that it is working "with partners like Airbus on HAPS connectivity generally," not to produce drones.
     
  14. Anfield

    Anfield Well-Known Member

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    "Facebook faced with minor delay in their quest to harvest and exploit even more data"

    Everyone happy now?:hehe:
     
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  15. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    I even linked you Facebook calling it exactly that a handful of posts ago:
     
  16. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Yes, I read that when you first posted it: the two Facebook employees refer to it as the "Aquila program;" the phrase "Project Aquila" appears nowhere in the linked article. I only stated that Facebook has never referred to it as "Project Aquila," and you've provided nothing to suggest otherwise. (Though I haven't done an exhaustive search of Facebook's press releases and posts on the matter, which is why I couched my original statement with "as far as I can tell.")

    Following the edit made at your behest, for which I thank you for helping me improve the clarity of the article, the article now states: "the homebrew drone portion of Project Aquila, along with its Bridgwater office, is being officially shut down" (and has done for more than a day now.) The article is, thus, to my understanding completely accurate, as discussed at length: the homebrew drone portion of project Aquila, whether big-P or little-p, has been shut down, along with its Bridgwater office.

    Now, you're welcome to address any of my other points in my last post, such as the headline you suggested as a fix which I feel is considerably more misleading than my own, but otherwise I think this discussion has run its course: I believe the article (post the edit you suggested) is in no way misleading, but you disagree; neither of us is likely to change our mind at this point. If you would like to take your concerns with the piece further, editor @Dogbert666 will be more than happy to receive your email (and by "more than happy" I mean "will sigh deeply and call me on my mobile to tell me to stop antagonising people in the forum.")
     
  17. Bitten

    Bitten New Member

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    "Given these developments..."

    Given what developments? That's the interesting part... what happened? I can probably join Facebook and read the original post, but thought I would get the meat of it here.
     
  18. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    It's available on their blog, and is not login-gated. Short version: actual aircraft manufacturers are starting to make high-altitude long-endurance (HALE/HAVE) drones that don't cost Global Hawk monies and use solar power rather than liquid fuel - e.g. Zephyr, PHASA, SolarEagle/Vulture, Solara/Skybender, etc - so it makes sense to buy aircraft from aircraft manufacturers with experience... well... building aircraft, rather than to have a division building their own (to variable degrees of success depending on who you ask).
     
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