Connecting the rural and remote regions of the world to the internet is the new battleground between Facebook and Google. Last week, Google signed an agreement with Sri Lankan authorities to completely cover the nation with Internet coverage. Now, Facebook Aquila Solar Powered Drone has been unleashed by the social media giant with an aim to connect the 4 billion people to internet who are still not connected to the internet.
Facebook Aquila Solar Powered Drone has been developed by the company’s Connectivity Lab, and has undergone various tests. The solar powered drone comes with the wingspan of a ‘Boeing 737’ and is lighter than a car.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO said:
“Using aircraft to connect communities using lasers might seem like science fiction. But science fiction is often just science before its time. Over the coming months, we will test these systems in the real world and continue refining them so we can turn their promise into reality.”
Despite its size, the Facebook Aquila Solar Powered Drone weighs nearly 400 kg, including 25 kg of communication equipment. It is made up of Carbon fiber, due to which its structure is light, yet rigid and can withstand extreme weather.
It can stay in the air for three months at about 60,000 to 90,000 feet high before returning to earth and can transmit the signal to 50 km radius. It will receive signals through dishes and small towers, and then translate that signal into LTE or WiFi for the people below. It can transmit data at the rate of 10 gigabits/ second by means of a laser beam.
Jay Parikh, VP of Facebook’s global engineering and infrastructure, said:
“Our intention is not to build networks and then operate them ourselves, but rather to quickly advance the state of these technologies to the point that they become viable solutions for operators and other partners to deploy.”
The aim of Connectivity Lab is to have a network of Aquilas, which will communicate with each other via lasers. Facebook Aquila Solar Powered Drone will help the people living in remote areas who are still not connected to the internet.