Facebook completed the building of its first giant, solar-powered drone in July this year and it is now in its testing stages.
The Aquila aircraft, which took 14 months to build, will offer Internet speeds of 10 gigabits per second to remote parts of the world. It has a wingspan of a Boeing 737 and can stay airborne for 90 days at a time, operating as high as 90,000 feet in the air.
Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said:
“We’ve completed construction of our first full scale aircraft, Aquila, as part of our Internet.org effort. Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down Internet connectivity from the sky. “
He continues: “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.”
Facebook also shared footage of the building of the drone in July this year, to shed light on the science behind it.
Engineering Lead, Andy Cox explained:
“A ground station will transmit a radio internet signal to a mother aircraft, and that will then feed other aircraft in the constellation using laser technology, and they will provide you radio Internet coverage.”
Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the drone will be tested in real world conditions:
“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.”