What would you think if you hear the words “pilotless plane” and “powerful laser” in one sentence? Probably you’d panic. Don’t panic, though. Facebook’s solar-powered drone prototype Aquila is here to bring access to Internet for more than 5 billion people.
Despite the scarce technical details, we know that Aquila is part of Facebook’s giant project to spread signal to remote areas, where there is no terrestrial infrastructure, and where such infrastructure cannot be built for many reasons such as challenging terrain, lack of funding, ongoing armed conflicts and so on.
With a wingspan greater than that of a Boeing 737, Internet.org says that Aquila is one of a future fleet of drones to beam high-speed Internet coverage to those two thirds of the world that are not connected to the Web yet.
Facebook has yet to deal with all the regulatory restrictions that the respective countries impose on their radio spectrum. Safety is another important question that the company needs to deal with before the first plane takes off – both related to the safety of commercial and civil aircrafts as well as the safety level of the laser communication technology used.
Facebook is not alone in its attempt to provide free or affordable Internet access to rural and remote areas. Google, too, plans to use unmanned planes as well as balloons floating in the stratosphere in order to create a net of Internet-beaming vehicles.
Naturally, both Aquila and Google Loon are related to the companies’ wish to provide quality access to their services. The technologies as well as the aims are similar – both Google and Facebook plan to use unmanned aircrafts – pilotless superlight solar-powered drones. While Facebook is still at the prototype level, Google’s Loon is already a fact. As to the unmanned planes – the tests are announced to start this summer.
So, may the battle of the drones begin!Top