Facebook’s Internet Drone Detailed
Facebook’s cool delta wing drone is on the way, it’s designed to bring internet to various parts of the world via lasers. The drone is part of internet.org, an initiative from Facebook to bring the flying internet and other related technologies to the third world and beyond.
The Aquila drones themselves are of a delta wing design, and are actually pretty large. Lacking a cockpit and flight deck means they’re just big flying wings – with roughly the same wingspan as a Boeing 737. The lightweight materials in the design will allow the solar powered vehicles to weigh the same as a small car, but also to fly around for months in one go.
Facebook says the key technology that’ll get internet down onto the ground is lasers. The light emitting devices will beam binary data from the drone to the ground, with a predicted range of 60,000-90,000 feet. Drones will also fire lasers at each other to establish a network of internet covering long distances. Above the clouds lasers will me much less inhibited by obstacles, and so can be used over longer ranges.
A test flight of the drone in the UK has already been completed, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s number one guy, has said that over this Summer the vehicles and the associated technology will be further tested pending release.
“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.”
The Aquila drone plan by Facebook is one of a huge selection of ‘flying internet’ vehicle and systems on their way – Google’s Project loon does vaguely the same thing, except with balloons, but is taking a while to fix up. It might ultimately be cheaper and less complicated, but Google are taking their sweet time.
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Meanwhile, Google and SpaceX are also looking into a satellite system to deliver internet – both companies have invested in the idea. Google’s Loon balloons could work in concert with such a system, and as of now we know very little about the SpaceX system apart from the fact it’s already amassed massive funding.
Flying web is a new, new, wave for the internet – companies have only cottoned on to the idea in the last 6 months or so, give or take a few, as third world countries and remote locations are getting their hands on internet capable devices such as Android One smartphones.