Facebook unveils solar-powered drone that can beam the internet down to earth

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.

This “breakthrough” development promises to ensure internet connectivity in parts, primarily rural ones, which could not have imagined such a possibility anytime soon. 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. 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. Google’s Project Loon, which aims to provide wireless internet to rural communities using high-altitude helium balloons, though, could be seen as a competition to Aquila.

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 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.

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