Facebook’s drone prototype has wingspan greater than a Boeing 737

27 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook to develop solar powered drones to provide Internet service.

Zuckerberg posted a Facebook update Thursday saying that Facebook’s drones, which would fly over remote communities and beam down Internet signals, have taken test flights in the United Kingdom: The final design will have a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737 but will weigh less than a car.Facebook revealed new details on Thursday about its plan to bring web connectivity to the 4 billion people worldwide without Internet — and it’s banking big on drones.

As the second day of its F8 conference began here at Fort Mason in San Francisco, Facebook announced the first hardware it plans to use to beam the Internet down to billions of people around the world.Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has upped Internet.org’s mission to connect Earth’s five billion information-poor individuals to the web with the launch of a new video, showing the Aquila net-providing drone in action.Social networking giant Facebook says it’s ready to tackle the problem of individuals around the world without access to the Internet by developing solar powered aerial drones that would beam service down to Earth.

During today’s keynote, Facebook also announced that it open sourced its development tool React Native, and showed off new artificial intelligence systems that can identify and understand the meaning of video and text content. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Internet.org announced today (Thursday 26 March) that they are willing to implement automated solar drones and satellites in a bid to open up the internet to more people across the world.

Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world because they can affordably serve the 10% of the world’s population that live in remote communities without existing internet infrastructure. Facebook wants to reach these five billion through something they’ve coined Project Aquila, an initiative to build a fleet of giant solar powered drone aircraft. Just staying in the air for that long is a challenge, but Facebook’s also going to be pushing Internet access down to people 60,000-90,000 feet below using lasers, as well as maintaining communications between drones to maintain coverage across wider regions.

While both companies have framed their respective projects as lofty, big-thinking goals, they would also materially benefit from having more Internet-connected humans they could turn into users. The move is a part of a greater effort to support the Facebook-led initiative Internet.org, which is already bringing free Internet data to four African countries, Colombia and India. Aquila is the first complete concept we’ve seen come out of Facebook’s acqui-hires of engineers from UK-based Ascenta, unveiled nearly a year ago today. The plans seemed to have been in place as far back as last year, when drone manufacturer Ascenta was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and was set to work designing unmanned aerial vehicles. The company also announced during the keynote that the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift will officially launch “this year.” The move could catapult virtual reality gaming into the mainstream.

Each of these drones is designed to have a massive wingspan – about the same size of the Boeing 767’s tip-to-top length of 156 feet – yet only weigh about as much as a compact car. In addition, the social network is also considering the use of satellites to reach regions that might be too inhospitable or remote for the flying drones to reach. While it could very well be several years before Project Aquila gets off the ground and does begin to provide Internet connectivity to people worldwide, it might not be nearly as long as many people think.

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