Facebook recently showed off its solar powered aircraft “Aquila” to the world. The aircraft has a wingspan larger than a commercial airliner but only weighs about as much as a small car. Aquila will bring internet connectivity to the most remote parts of the world using lasers.
The aircraft is made of some of the strongest carbon fiber around and its stronger than steel. It will fly up to 3 months at a time higher than most air traffic at 60,000 – 90,000 feet. The lasers developed for the Aquila will send information at speed of 10s Gbs per second. Thats 10 times faster than the industry standard.
Here is more detailed information from the Facebook news website including the lastest project video.
Take a look inside Facebook’s Connectivity Lab – an important part of our effort to bring connectivity to the billions of people who are unconnected today.
Posted by Facebook Engineering on Thursday, July 30, 2015
Today our Connectivity Lab team announced two major milestones in this work:
- A full-scale version of Aquila — the high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft designed by our aerospace team in the UK — is now complete and ready for flight testing. Aquila has the wingspan of a 737 but weighs hundreds of times less, thanks to its unique design and carbon-fiber frame. 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.
- Our laser communications team in Woodland Hills, California, has achieved a significant performance breakthrough. They’ve designed and lab-tested a laser that can deliver data at 10s of Gb per second — approximately 10x faster than the previous state-of-the-art in the industry — to a target the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away. We are now starting to test these lasers in real-world conditions. When finished, our laser communications system can be used to connect our aircraft with each other and with the ground, making it possible to create a stratospheric network that can extend to even the remotest regions of the world.
We still have a long way to go in this work, but we are excited by our early progress. And much like we’ve done with the Open Compute Project, we plan to engage with the broader community and share what we’ve learned, so we can all move faster in the development of these technologies.