Facebook releases video of its solar powered drone

Facebook Drone

Image: Facebook

If you can remember back to March 2015 at Facebook’s F8 event, you might remember Mark Zuckerberg announcing his drone project. Zuckerberg explained how he plans on launching drones into countries where internet is not easily accessible, hoping to enable 4 billion individuals with the ability to use internet.

Zuckerberg posted a video on Facebook of his full-sized solar powered drone for the very first time today. The name of the drone is Aquila and it’s wingspan is basically the size of a Boeing 737, pretty impressive huh?

The drone is still in an early testing phase, however the drone has surprised many with a flight time of 90 minutes, nearly three times the original plan. However, it is still a long way from the three month long flight Facebook has planned. When Aquila is finished, it will have to fly at altitudes between 60,000 to 90,000 feet.

The company released a statement on Aquila earlier, explaining that “Aquila is a solar-powered airplane that can be used to bring affordable internet to hundreds of millions of people in the hardest-to-reach places. When complete, Aquila will be able to circle a region up to 60 miles in diameter, beaming connectivity down from an altitude of more than 60,000 feet using laser communications and millimeter wave systems.”

Aquila is just a small project within Facebook’s larger plans to connect the world through internet.org. As Zuckerberg has released several platforms around the world to enable better access to internet. He recently also announced the release of OpenCellular, an open source “wireless access platform.” The goal of the platform will be to bring down the production cost of setting up new cellular towers and eventually improve signal rages and strength in third world countries.

Zuckerberg is hopeful that projects like Aquila and OpenCellular will be a success, although he acknowledges that they are years from release.

Aquila will continue to go through tests over the next year, with the main focus of the company being to reach the three month flying period.

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