Facebook has completed the production of its first full-scale solar-powered internet drone that will deliver wireless internet with lasers from the sky in parts of the developing world where internet is not available
Mark Zuckerberg has announced the completion of Aquila, Facebook’s first unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity from the sky, as part of his project with Internet.org.
“It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time,” Zuckerberg said in a statement posted on his Facebook blog on Thursday.
“We have also made a breakthrough in laser communications technology. We have successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second,” he continued.
“That is 10 times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away,” Zuckerberg said.
Aquila’s wings are made of a type of material called carbon fibre.
“When the carbon fibre material undergoes a kind of heating process known as curing, it can become “stronger than steel for the same mass of material,” Yael Maguire, Facebook Connectivity Lab director, wrote in a blog post.
The drone has been developed by Facebook’s Connectivity Lab which is part of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative to bring the internet to places where there is a lack of connectivity.
This effort is important “because 10 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas without existing internet infrastructure. To affordably connect everyone, we need to build completely new technologies,” Zuckerberg informed
In an accompanying video, Facebook engineers said that the drone will fly from 60,000 to 90,000 feet above the Earth and stay in the sky three months at a time.
“Using aircraft to connect communities using lasers might seem like science fiction. But science fiction is often just science before its time,” Zuckerberg wrote.