Facebook's giant internet drone nails test flight

The company revealed that its experimental solar powered aircraft, named Aquila, created to beam connections to remote regions, has completed its first successful test flight.

Aquila is a mammoth project, but Facebook seems undaunted considering how things have progressed in the last couple of months.

Intending to provide internet to the 1.6 billion people worldwide that don't have access to it, Facebook plans to use the solar-powered drone to beam coverage to 60-mile-wide areas on the ground while staying airborne for up to 90 days at a time all while drawing no more power than a trio of hair dryers.

The flight comes almost a year after Facebook revealed an already year-old drone development project underway in Yeovil, UK. Internet.org provides resources for developers and app makers to build apps that can run in areas with slow wireless networks, and partners with carriers and internet service providers to help people purchase affordable data.

But, hey. The drones aren't going to be fully designed with solar power enhancements for another couple of years, so there's still some time to work out the kinks!

More news: No more VCRs, production stops on last-known production line

The aircraft has the wingspan of an airliner, but at cruising speed it will consume only 5,000 watts - the same amount as three hairdryers, or a high-end microwave.

With the payload mass consisting mainly of "high-energy batteries", the goal is to circle above a city or village for months at a time. In a recent press release, Jay Parikh, Facebook's Head of Engineering and Infrastructure explained just how important internet connectivity is to the world and how many people go without it. To prove out the full capacity of the design, Facebook will push Aquila to the limits in a lengthy series of tests in the coming months and years. "Unfortunately, by doing this, Facebook made it more hard for other ISPs to compete with the low low price of" free", so ironically, the program ended up making internet access more limited overall.

Facebook really wants to make sure everyone is on Facebook.

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