Last week, Facebook announced a major milestone in the development and testing of its Aquila drone.
The social media giant revealed that it has finished construction on its first aircraft, which is now ready for flight testing.
When deployed, the drone will be able to circle remote regions for up to 90 days, beaming connectivity down from altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet.
The Aquila drone has the wingspan of a 737 but weighs less than a car, thanks to its unique design and carbon fiber frame.
“Since we launched Internet.org, it’s been our mission to find ways to provide Internet connectivity to the more than 4 billion people who are not yet online,” Jay Parikh, Facebook’s VP of global engineering and infrastructure, said in the company’s news blog.
Internet.org is Facebook’s initiative to bring free, basic Internet access through mobile providers to people who are not yet online.
Facebook has reached agreements with mobile providers in 17 countries to provide more than one billion people with free connectivity for basic services.
The Aquila drone was developed by the company’s Connectivity Lab and built by its U.K. aerospace team
Facebook is exploring a number of more approaches, including aircraft, satellites and terrestrial solutions.
“Our intention is not to build networks and then operate them ourselves, but rather to quickly advance the state of these technologies to the point that they become viable solutions for operators and other partners to deploy,” he said.
In addition to building the aircraft, Facebook also announced that it has achieved a significant performance breakthrough with a new laser that would allow the drone to beam data 10 times faster than previous technologies.
The laser has successfully delivered tens of gigabytes of data per second in the lab, and the company is now going to test the technology under real-world conditions.