Facebook has been determined to bring the internet to the more remote places in the world and, while it isn’t the only one with the idea, has shown off the hardware that will achieve the feat. The Aquila is a solar powered unmanned drone capable of flying at an altitude between 60,000 and 90,000 feet.
The Aquila has a wingspan equal to that of a Boeing 737, and weighs just under 400kg. Of course, it also bears a great semblance to the B2 stealth bomber. It is still substantially smaller than the military aircraft, and will carry an ordinance that delivers high speed internet instead of nuclear weapons. Facebook has said that the Aquila will use a high powered laser to deliver an internet connection of 10s of Gb per second.
Aerial tests will be conducted later this year in the US, and it is still unknown how the Federal Aviation Agency will regulate this sort of air traffic. This is compounded by the fact that the Aquila is not capable of taking off on its own, and will need to be lifted to its cruising altitude by a balloon.
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Posted by Facebook Engineering on Thursday, 30 July 2015
Facebook is not the only company working to connect the entire world to the internet; Google is testing a similar plan although the internet giant plans to use weather balloons instead. Facebook’s plan for a free internet broadcasted into places like Central Africa (which has extremely limited internet connectivity) recently hit a speed bump after it revealed plans to only support selected websites. The move worried Net Neutrality activists and caused several contributors to the Facebook internet plan to withdraw support.
However, it looks like the social media giant is planning to go ahead with its plans anyway. How this shapes up could either change the world for the better, or show us why drone deployed internet does not work.