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Facebook’s Internet drones ready to take flight

by Jacob Kleinman | July 31, 2015July 31, 2015 8:00 pm PST

Facebook announced on Thursday that its Internet-providing drones are ready to take flight. The company will begin testing the aircraft later this year in an effort to bring Internet access to hundreds of millions of people.

The social network also noted that it plans to work with established Internet providers rather than compete with them. “Our intention is not to be an operator” Facebook’s VP of engineering Jay Parikh told TechCrunch. “We’re not going to be ‘Facebook ISP.’”

Facebook’s drone, called Aquila, runs on solar power and is capable of flying for 90 days straight. It boasts a 140 foot wingspan—the same as big as a Boeing 737—though the unmanned aircraft only weighs 880 pounds. That’s lighter than a 2015 Toyota Prius.

Each drone will spread Internet via laser, and Facebook says it’s precise enough to hit a dime-sized receptor from up to 10 miles away. In recent tests the Internet-providing laser offered speeds as fast as 10 gigabits per second.

Facebook is competing with Google to bring Internet to some of the most remote parts of the world. The search giant has a head start, and its Project Loon balloons are already roaming the earth. Of course, there can’t really be too much free Internet, and hopefully increasing competition in the space will only mean that both projects progress even quicker than before.

 

NYTimes TechCrunch

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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