Facebook Creates a Solar Powered Drone to Provide Internet
In today’s day and age it is scary to think that 10% of the world’s population does not have access to the internet. In an effort to help provide internet to the more remote areas of the population Facebook has created Aquila. Aquila is a solar powered, unmanned drone that can spend up to 3 months in the air at a time. It will be used to beam down internet connectivity from the sky to those who live in isolated parts of the world.
Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering at Facebook said “Our mission is to connect everybody in the world, this is going to be a great opportunity for us to motivate the industry to move faster on this technology.”
The plane will weigh roughly 400 kgs and will be able to hover 18 000 to 27 000 metres above the altitude of a commercial plane. Aquila has a wingspan of 42 metres could potentially provide internet to people in a 50 km radius. The idea is that there will be a large network of Aquilas (drones) that will communicate with each other by lasers. Facebook have claimed that the lasers are capable of transmitting data at a historical 10 Gbps which is 10 times faster than the current industry standard.
Meanwhile Google are working on Project Loon which aims to provide internet access to remote areas via hot air balloons. Unlike Facebook’s Aquila, Google’s Project Loon uses hot air balloons which means they can not be directly steered but Google claims that, with an accurate enough model of wind speeds and directions, it is possible to effectively direct the balloons simply by raising or lowering their altitude to ensure they blow in the desired direction. The race to bring internet to those in remote countries is on and so far it seems Google have the upper hand as they have released hundreds of test balloons, and are close to launching thousands of balloons into the air.