beaming drone just
completed its first test
Facebook has completed a test flight
of its Aquila drone – a solar powered
plane capable of beaming internet to
Built with a carbon fibre frame and
solar panel-coated wings, Aquila can
stay airborne for months and was first
shown off last year.
Facebook says the drone “has the
wingspan of an airliner but weighs
less than a small car and flies on
roughly the power of three blow
The idea is to keep the plane aloft for
90 days at a time, beaming internet to
people in regions that would otherwise
not have access.
Related: Flying a drone – Everything
you need to know
The test itself was conducted on June
28 and allowed the team to try an
unconventional takeoff method using a
dolly to propel Aquila down the
runway to takeoff speed.
It’s all part of Facebook’s Internet.org
campaign, which aims to bring
internet to a billion users who would
otherwise be without it.
The company plans to eventually
release a network of the drones, which
beam broadband access to the ground
via lasers, to establish full internet
coverage for large parts of the world.
It’s unlikely the project will get going
in any real capacity for a few years
yet, but this latest test, which went
well for Facebook, shows the firm is
still wholly committed to its cause.
Google is also working on a similar
project using drones and air balloons,
so it will be interesting to see which
company manages to get these things
working in a real sense first.