Facebook has a new plan for increasing its customer base. They are going to deliver internet directly to them via solar powered drones. The drones, named Aquila, could bring connectivity to areas of the world whose infrastructure has made it near impossible to get wired internet. They have the wingspan of a commercial aircraft, (~a 737). It had its first full-scale test flight yesterday.
“Aquila is designed to be hyper efficient, so it can fly for up to three months at a time,” Parikh wrote. “The aircraft has the wingspan of an airliner, but at cruising speed it will consume only 5,000 watts — the same amount as three hair dryers, or a high-end microwave.”
The recent test flight was the first for the full-scale drone, as previous tests used a one-fifth scale version of Aquila, according to the social media giant. Facebook said it plans to push Aquila to the limits in a lengthy series of tests over the coming months and years.
Mobile phones have already been changing 3rd world-countries for the better. They don’t require high levels of infrastructure, so it’s easier for individuals to get access to it vs. physical phone lines, which needs a comlplicated system built.
This could make an even bigger difference. You wouln’t even need a cell tower built in this case–just airspace.
What’s going on in the future with this? Facebook posted this message:
We’re encouraged by this first successful flight, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. In fact, to reach our goal of being able to fly over a remote region and deliver connectivity for up to three months at time, we will need to break the world record for solar-powered unmanned flight, which currently stands at two weeks. This will require significant advancements in science and engineering to achieve. It will also require us to work closely with operators, governments and other partners to deploy these aircraft in the regions where they’ll be most effective.
The first thing I wondered, though, was how they would coordinate with aircraft to make sure no accidents happen.