Facebook, the social networking giant, has finally completed building Aquila, its first full-scale drone. With Aquila, Facebook aims to provide the joy of Internet to even the remotest of the remote parts of the world.
Facebook plans to do a real world testing of Aquila in the later part of the year in the United States.
With a wingspan of Boeing 737, the drone is basically a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity while in the sky. It weighs less than a car and has a potential to stay in the air for months at a time.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg broke the news of real world testing of Aquila in his facebook post below –
I’m excited to announce we’ve completed construction of our first full scale aircraft, Aquila, as part of our Internet.org effort.
[cp_quote style=”quote_normal_dark”]Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity from the sky. 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.
We’ve also made a breakthrough in laser communications technology. We’ve successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That’s ten 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.
This effort is important because 10% of the world’s population lives in areas without existing internet infrastructure. To affordably connect everyone, we need to build completely new technologies.
Using aircraft to connect communities using lasers might seem like science fiction. But science fiction is often just science before its time. Over the coming months, we will test these systems in the real world and continue refining them so we can turn their promise into reality. Here’s a video showing the building of Aquila.left-right-[/cp_quote]
The drone will reportedly weigh about 400 kg and hover between 60,000 feet and 90,000 feet, which is typically above the altitude of commercial airplanes, so that it is does not get affected by weather. The drone was built over a period of 14 months and can function in the air for 90 days at a stretch. The drone will have Helium balloons attached to it, in order to help it float up in the air.
“Our mission is to connect everybody in the world,” said Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering in a statement to a tech website. “This is going to be a great opportunity for us to motivate the industry to move faster on this technology.”
Currently, Facebook has no plans to sell its drones but will use the technology just to increase Internet connectivity all across the globe. Facebook is apparently the first company to fly at such altitudes.