Facebook takes flight - Inside the test flight of Facebook’s first internet drone
July 21, 2016
Facebook is building a drone that can beam internet from the sky. And it just passed a huge milestone: its first functional test flight, staying aloft for 90 minutes above Yuma, Arizona (3x times longer than planned). Aquila is a solar powered drone with a massive wingspan of 141ft (a Boeing 747 has a wingspan of 113ft). It flies as slowly as possible, using only 2,000 watts of electricity (equivalent to that of 3 hair dryers). Aquila is built out of carbon fiber and only weighs 900lbs (half the weight of a smartcar). The laser communications system can deliver data 10 times faster than the current standard. And its so precise it can target a dime from 10 miles away. The project started with the presumption that building drones is more feasible than covering the world with signal towers. Aquila flies closer to the ground than satellites allowing it to give off a stronger signal. This could bring the internet to all 7 billion people on earth and make Facebook's plan to expand into AI and virtual reality possible.