Facebook’s “Aquila”: Solar-powered Internet Drone Takes Maiden Flight

Jon Capistrano
Jon Capistrano
August 4, 2016

Exciting News from ABC. The social media giant has completed a successful test flight of a solar-powered drone that it hopes will help extend internet connectivity to every party of the world.

Facebook’s lightweight, high-altitude aircraft (called Aquila) flew 1 thousand feet over Yuma, Arizona for about 96 minutes as stated by CEO Mark Zuckerberg who posted the event on his Facebook page. The company ultimately hopes to have a fleet of Aquila drones that can fly for at least 3 months at a time at 18,300 metres, communicate with each other and deliver internet access.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Inc has also invested money into delivering internet access to remote areas through Project Loon. This aims to use a network of high-altitude balloons to make the internet available to remote parts of the world.

Facebook’s engineering director and connectivity lab head, Dr Yael Maguire, said the company originally hoped the drone would fly for 30 minutes. Maguire said that they hope the system may be brought into service in the near future.

Zuckerberg laid out the company’s biggest challenges in flying a fleet of Aquila drones: making the plane lighter to allow it to fly for longer periods, getting it to fly at 18,300 metres, creating communication networks allowing for quick data transfer and accurately beaming down lasers to provide stable internet connections.

Dr Maguire said Aquila will have to go through several more test flights. Stakeholders are hoping the project will break the world record for the longest solar-powered drone flight. The present record 2 weeks.

Click here to read the full story on ABC News

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