Aquila: Internet on Wings!
Post By Saksham Garg on 12-August-2015
It’s a bird… No it’s a plane… Actually it’s Internet on a plane!
With the launch of its first full scale drone ‘Aquila’, Facebook has taken Internet to the skies. Literally. This is in keeping with the motive of Internet.org, i.e. to provide basic Internet services to even the remotest places on Earth.
The solar powered drone has a wingspan of 40m, about the same length as that of a Boeing 737. The wing is made from a cured carbon fiber that is stronger than steel for the same mass of material. Before it’s cured, the material is flexible, so it can be moulded into the right shape.
Unlike most drones, Aquila lacks feels or even the ability to climb to cruising altitude without aid. It’ll use helium balloons to climb to the desired altitude. Balloons would do the trick since the plane weighs at just 400 kgs (all communications gear included).
Aquila will fly at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet – above commercial air traffic. During the day, the aircraft will fly at 90,000 feet to maximize its ability to charge its solar cells. At night, it will glide down to 60,000 feet, taking advantage of gravitational potential energy to consume less power.
Lasers will beam information at tens of gigabytes per second between the drones and systems on the ground where antennas or dishes would convert it into Wi-Fi signals which could then be accessed by the people.
Aquila is in its last stage of testing and would be put to service soon. How this venture would turn out to be we don’t know yet, but one thing is for sure – it’s always better for drones to be showering Internet instead of bombs.
P.S.: To those of you wondering how Aquila got its name: ‘Aquila’ literally means eagle, symbolising focused and efficient working of the drone. To those of you who were not wondering, sorry.