Facebook’s Internet Drone: How It Works

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook builds full-scale drone.

AP This undated image provided by Facebook shows the Aquila, a high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft with a wingspan as big as a Boeing 737, designed by Facebook’s aerospace team in the United Kingdom.In its latest announcement, Facebook reveals to have completed building its first full-scale drone, Aquila, that aims at providing Internet access to the most remote parts of the world. It will hover between 60 000 feet and 90 000 feet (20km and 30km), above the altitude of commercial airplanes, so that it is not affected by problematic weather. “Our mission is to connect everybody in the world,” said Jay Parikh, vice-president of engineering. “This is going to be a great opportunity for us to motivate the industry to move faster on this technology.” The drone, which was built in 14 months, is able to fly in the air for 90 days at a time, Maguire said.

The project is part of a broader effort by Facebook that also contemplates using satellites and other high-tech gear to deliver internet connectivity to hundreds of millions of people living in regions too remote for conventional service. On 28 July, Mangala Samaraweera, the foreign minister of Sri Lanka announced a historic partnership with Google to cover every inch of Sri Lanka with high-speed Internet coverage via its Project Loon. The company claims to have 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,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. Facebook also has a separate but related initiative that works with wireless carriers to provide limited mobile internet service at no cost, in countries where residents are too poor to afford traditional wireless plans. Loon was born out of a long-standing fascination that Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had with high-altitude balloons, where a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space are designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.

Facebook’s drone was developed in part with engineering expertise that joined the company when it acquired a British aerospace startup, Ascenta, last year. Facebook engineering vice president Jay Parikh said the team created a design that uses rigid but light-weight layers of carbon fibre, capable of flying in the frosty cold temperatures found at high altitudes, for an extended period of time. Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40 km in diameter using a wireless communications technology called LTE (long-term evolution), commonly known as 4G LTE.

Each drone will fly in a circle with a radius of about three kilometres, which the engineers hope will enable it to provide internet service to an area with a radius of about 50 kilometres. Facebook is designing the drones to transmit signals from one aircraft to another, so they can relay signals across a broader area on the ground, he added. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. When deployed, it will be able to circle a remote region for up to 90 days, beaming connectivity down to people from an altitude of 60,000 to 90,000 feet.

Both these initiatives are a part of Facebook’s global Internet.org project that was launched last year in collaboration with technology companies in a bid to make Internet accessible to more people by providing them access to a range of free basic services. In his post announcing the completion of Aquila, Zuckerberg explained, “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.” While both companies remain tight-lipped about costs, it would be naive to imagine that providing an Internet blanket would not be a lucrative proposition for the companies.

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