Facebook has introduced Aquila, an internet drone, which uses laser technology to deliver internet to the developing world from the sky.
According to the Verge, the working model of the plane is ready and Facebook is going to start testing it.
The plane has a shallow V-shape and has 140 feet wingspan of a Boeing 737 and weighs only weighs between 880 to 1,000 pounds even fully loaded down with communications gear.
Facebook said in a blog post that when deployed, it will be able to circle a remote region for up to 90 days, beaming connectivity down to people from an altitude of 60,000 to 90,000 feet.
The feat is possible because of its dependence on solar energy and nothing else.
Facebook says that it will have lasers on the ground that can locate the dome-shaped optical head, located on the bottom of the plane, in the air. The plane will first hone in on the general location of the laser on the ground, proceeding to target it further and lock onto the location so that it can start beaming down the internet. Because the plane requires a connection with the lasers on the ground though, the users might experience a slower connection when it’s raining or cloudy.
The plane is built from two layers of lightweight carbon fiber material that pack in a layer of foam. At a time presently the record for an aircraft staying afloat is two weeks. The entire outside shell will be covered in solar panels.
During the day, when they are fully charged, the planes will fly at an altitude of 90,000 feet. But at night, in order to conserve power, they will float down to about 60,000 feet.
When finalized, it will send the data via lasers.
Facebook says it has also achieved a significant breakthrough in the speed and accuracy of laser technology. They have lab-tested a laser that can deliver data at tens of gigabits per second, which is 10 times faster than the current state-of-the-art lasers in the industry.
Facebook wants to create a linked network that will bring internet access to remote areas. Using a variety of data sources, Facebook can figure out where people are located physically, in order to then decide the most cost-effective way to bring them connectivity.
As with its Internet.org project, Facebook will not provide access directly and will instead partner with local carriers to offer services.