Menlo Park, US – Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has announced the completion of its Aquila drone; the enormous solar-powered internet drone. The drone has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 of around 42 meters and will provide internet access to people in remote areas. However, Facebook has confirmed that it’s not going to be ‘Facebook ISP’ and they would not compete with other Internet Service Providers.
Facebook in fact plans to work with carriers and equipping them with drones all around the world in order to provide internet connectivity. The Aquila drone is especially designed for the 10% population of the world who lives in remote areas and is out of reach of mobile carriers.
The design and features of Aquila Drone
The Aquila drone weighs about 880 pounds (400 kgs) which is hundreds of times less than commercial airliner, due to the use of carbon fiber frame. It will hover above the altitude of commercial airplanes between 60,000 feet and 90,000 feet; thus keeping it safe from violent and problematic weather conditions.
At a time, the Aquila drone can remain aloft for a period of 90 days with the help of Helium balloons in order to float up in the air. It will power itself via solar energy. During the day, the Aquila drone will float at an altitude of around 90,000 feet; but will drift down to 60,000 feet during night time in order to conserve energy.
The company confirmed that they could sell or license the drones, Free Space Optics lasers and other technologies. In this way, the company can recoup its heavy expenditure of R&D done on these technologies and can generate revenue while fulfilling its humanitarian mission of connecting people by providing internet connectivity.
Other than Facebook, Google is also trying to solve the internet problems through its project Loon; providing internet access in remote areas using lighter-than-air balloons. The said balloons can stay aloft for 180 days at the same altitude. Both companies want to expand the reach of the internet and in turn expanding the reach of their businesses as well.
Earlier in late 2013 also, Facebook had started humanitarian effort of providing internet access to people. Internet.org project; a partnership of Facebook with telecom companies was aimed at connecting 5 billion people all around the world. And while giving internet access through its various projects, Facebook in turn can increase its online users.