If you’re not on Facebook, Facebook really wants to change that!
Facebook recently flew its 140-foot wide unmanned Aquila drone for the first time. It soared over Yuma, Arizona for 96 minutes as a test flight for what will hopefully become a fleet of aircraft that beam Internet access to billions of people across the globe.
Soaring between 60,000 and 90,000 feet above ground the carbon fiber boomerang-shaped aircrafts are designed to stay in the air for 3 months at a time. The solar powered drones will use lasers to stream internet access to receivers on the ground with a 30 mile radius. The connections are high speed and comparable to home internet service providers.
Even though test flight was a success, the science nerds at Facebook say the Aquila needs to be lighter if it’s going to stay in the air for months at a time. Right now, it weighs a little less than 1,000 lbs, most of that being from on-board batteries.
Once the drones are perfected Facebook claims it has no desire to manage their deployment. They’re going to leave that to local internet providers and governments.
The Aquila is a product two years in the making from Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, which wants to bring internet access to the over 4 billion people that lack it. Part of the reason they can’t get access to the internet is because they don’t have electricity or even 3G coverage available. Facebook’s fleet of drones might be able to help with that. However, the same people they look to empower with the world wide web may not have the funds to buy an internet ready device, are illiterate, or speak a language that is not typically used online.
But, that does not discourage Facebook from continuing their mission to provide internet access to those who need or want it.