If the world’s most popular social media platform was a country, Facebook would be the third-largest nation in the world in terms of population. Look around you at any time of day and you will almost certainly find people (if you’re not sitting alone, that is) who are connected to Facebook – sometimes at that very instant! Facebook is the undisputed king of social media today. The name itself is now instantly associated with walls, statuses, photos, messages and likes.
However, there is another facet of Facebook’s image. It is a leader in a social initiative known as Internet.org, which aims to increase internet connectivity to those parts of the world that still don’t have internet connectivity. Under the same initiative, Facebook has launched a drone that is able to transmit Internet from above our heads!
Sounds too wild to be true, right?
Believe it or not, this is one of Facebook’s many passion projects to increase connectivity and share the online experience with the rest of the world.
What is Facebook Aquila?
Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the Facebook team has finalized work on its unique drone that is bound to change the world of Internet connectivity. The drone, named Aquila, is able to transmit data using laser beams while airborne. There’s even more, however, as Aquila is solar-powered, meaning that it wouldn’t guzzle huge amounts of fuel to stay up in the air. It can stay airborne for 3 months straight without ever needing to land.
Facebook’s Aquila has a modern, sleek design; it has a wingspan equivalent to that of Boeing-737 (42 meters), but it weighs considerably less, approximately the same weight as a car.
What About the Internet?
The whole idea behind manufacturing the Aquila drone is to provide Internet access to the 10% of the world’s population that is still not connected to the Internet. In Zuckerberg’s own words: “This effort is important because 10% of the world’s population lives in areas without existing Internet infrastructure. To affordably connect everyone, we need to build completely new technologies.”
This is also a groundbreaking development in the world of laser communication. The team involved in the project has tested a new laser that is capable of transmitting data at a whopping 10 Gigabytes per second!
That’s some pretty crazy speed, huh?
Also, the Internet-providing drone is able to connect with “a point the size of a dime” within a 10-mile range
The plane would pose no threat to the flights of regular aircraft, as it will operate between 60,000ft (18km) and 90,000ft (27km), which is well above the level at which commercial airplanes fly. This also means that the drone will not be affected by weather.
Given that it depends on solar energy for power, the drone would fly at its maximum height during day to harness as much as power as possible, and then glide down to a lower level to conserve power at night when no solar power is present. Also, the drone would be initially raised in the air by helium balloons, as it would not have enough power to gain sufficient lift to leave the ground.
Commercial Production of Aquila
Zuckerberg has stated that it would take a bit more time before we’ll actually see these things airborne. On his official page on Facebook, the founder said, “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.”
Check out the video here related to Aquila’s design and function. It’s an ideal peek into the details of how Aquila is built and how it promises to change the world of Internet connectivity!