50 SKY SHADES - World aviation news

Facebook's solar-powered internet drone takes flight

Download: Printable PDF Date: 22 Jul 2016 04:29 category:
Publisher:
Facebook's solar-powered internet drone takes flight - Events / Festivals publisher
Tatjana Obrazcova
Country: United States Aircraft: Drones
Source: Reuters

Facebook Inc  said on Thursday it had completed a successful test flight of a solar-powered drone that it hopes will help it extend internet connectivity to every corner of the planet.

Aquila, Facebook's lightweight, high-altitude aircraft, flew at a few thousand feet for 96 minutes in Yuma, Arizona, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page. The company ultimately hopes to have a fleet of Aquilas that can fly for at least three months at a time at 60,000 feet (18,290 meters) and communicate with each other to deliver internet access.

Google parent Alphabet Inc has also poured money into delivering internet access to under served areas through Project Loon, which aims to use a network of high-altitude balloons to made the internet available to remote parts of the world.

Yael Maguire, Facebook's engineering director and head of its Connectivity Lab, said in an interview that the company initially hoped Aquila would fly for 30 minutes.

"We're thrilled about what happened with our first flight," Maguire said. "There are still a lot of technical challenges that need to be addressed for us to achieve the whole mission." He said he hoped the system might be brought into service "in the near future."

Zuckerberg laid out the company's biggest challenges in flying a fleet of Aquilas, including making the plane lighter so it can fly for longer periods, getting it to fly at 60,000 feet and creating communications networks that allow it to rapidly transfer data and accurately beam down lasers to provide internet connections.

Maguire said Aquila will go through several more test flights and hopes it will soon break the world record for the longest solar-powered unmanned aircraft flight, which currently stands at two weeks.

Facebook, which has more than 1.6 billion users, has invested billions of dollars in getting more people online, both through an initiative called internet.org - which offers a pared-down version of the internet to poor areas - and by building drones.



Loading comments for Facebook's solar-powered internet drone takes flight...


Recommended

Satcom Direct marks a decade as an Inmarsat Connected Partner for SwiftBroadband

Satcom Direct (SD), the business aviation connectivity provider, is celebrating 10 years of partnership with global mobile satellite communications business Inmarsat.  The milestone annivers...

hullo Aircrew celebrates online platform launch at London Oxford Airport

New technology will save operators time and money when sourcing crew Following the successful introduction of the hullo Aircrew brand at EBACE last year, the technology start-up has officially laun...

Oriens Aviation inaugurates Oriens Maintenance Services

New Authorised Pilatus Service Centre at London Biggin Hill Airport Oriens Aviation, the exclusive British Isles Pilatus Centre, formally inaugurated its new MRO facility, Oriens Maintenance Servic...

The H160 lands in Las Vegas, kicking off Airbus’ presence at Heli-Expo

H160 prototype, H145, H135 and H125 alongside a full range of updated HCare digital solutions The H160 prototype has landed in Las Vegas and will be headlining Airbus Helicopters’ presence fo...