Facebook Drone Could One Day Provide Global Internet Access | NBC Connecticut
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Facebook Drone Could One Day Provide Global Internet Access

"When Aquila is ready, it will be a fleet of solar-powered planes that will beam internet connectivity across the world," Zuckerberg wrote Thursday on Facebook

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg became emotional during his commencement speech at Harvard when discussing a high school student who is an undocumented immigrant. (Published Thursday, May 25, 2017)

    A solar-powered drone backed by Facebook that could one day provide worldwide internet access has quietly completed a test flight in Arizona after an earlier attempt ended with a crash landing.

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's long-term plan for the drone, called Aquila, is to have it and others provide internet access to 4 billion people around the world who are currently in the dark.

    "When Aquila is ready, it will be a fleet of solar-powered planes that will beam internet connectivity across the world," he wrote Thursday on Facebook.

    The drone's second flight was completed in May at Yuma Proving Ground, The Yuma Sun reported.

    How Would the East Coast Hyperloop Compare to World’s Largest Tunnels?

    [NATL] How Would the East Coast Hyperloop Compare to World’s Largest Tunnels?

    Elon Musk’s proposed Hyperloop from New York to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., would stretch over 250 miles. If built, how would that compare to the world’s largest tunnels?

    (Published Friday, July 21, 2017)

    The drone flew with more sensors, new spoilers and a horizontal propeller stopping system to help it better land after the crash in December. It was in the air for an hour and 46 minutes and elevated 3,000 feet (910 meters).

    The drone flew with the engineering team watching a live stream from a helicopter chasing the drone, said Martin Luis Gomez, Facebook's director of aeronautical platforms.

    The team was thrilled with the outcome, Gomez said.

    "The improvements we implemented based on Aquila's performance during its first test flight made a significant difference in this flight," he said.

    The drone weighs about 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) and has a longer wingspan than a Boeing 747.

    The drone runs mostly on autopilot, but there are manned ground crews to manage certain maneuvers.

    "We successfully gathered a lot of data to help us optimize Aquila's efficiency," Zuckerberg said. "No one has ever built an unmanned airplane that will fly for months at a time, so we need to tune every detail to get this right."