This is the height of cool or just a sci-fi/James Bond film come to life. Facebook is developing a fleet of solar-powered drones, that will fly around remote places, letting people living below, access the Internet via lasers. The project is code-named Aquila, and the drones weigh less than a small car and have a wingspan of a Boeing 767.
Facebook will launch over 1,000 of these drones, which are capable of beaming high-speed Internet from between 60,000 to 90,000 feet. With doing social good being upfront on their agenda, Mark Zuckerberg stated this in his Facebook post, “In our effort to connect the whole world with Internet.org, we’ve been working on ways to beam internet to people from the sky.”
“Today, we’re sharing some details of the work Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone. Our goal with Internet.org is to make affordable access to basic internet services available to every person in the world.” This is likely to bring the Internet to an estimated 5 billion people who don’t have access right now.
Facebook is further ahead than expected, and it has already conducted test flights of the aircraft in the UK. The aircraft is extremely light, as it needs to be because the drone has to stay in the air for a total of three months powered entirely by solar power. They provide Internet to the areas below, but the drones will also need to communicate with other drones, in order to cover a wider area. The drones are likely to undergo further testing later this year, and hence there is no word yet, as to when they will be officially launched.
Facebook is not alone. Google has also got its own gizmo in this space. Its ‘Project Loon’ uses modified weather balloons to float around and beam Internet to those below. In India, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has shown an interest in it, and may ask Google to do trials here. (http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/features/smartbuy/tech-news/dot-may-ask-google-to-do-loon-trials/article6735923.ece)
Sci-fi personified or a new reality? Go figure.