Drones and laser for internet access: The project takes form Facebook


Access to the internet through a network of solar drones and lasers: the crazy project of Facebook begins to take shape, with the technological advances now allow trials. American social network announced Thursday it had completed the construction of the first of these drones real scale.

Designed in the UK and named Aquila, it is essentially a large wing in carbon fiber, similar in scope to that of a Boeing 737 but weighs less than a small car, not more than 450 kilos a Once onboard communications equipment.

“An important step” has been taken in parallel with the laboratory design of a system of “laser communications that can reach tens of gigabytes per second, about 10 times better than the currently more advanced,” said Yael Maguire, the engineer to head the “Connectivity Lab”, the Facebook team in charge of research on new ways to access the internet during a presentation at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park.

These lasers may also affect a room of 10 cents to nearly 18 kilometers away. This high accuracy is necessary because Facebook wants to use them to relay communications between ground equipment and drones flying at a distance and at very high altitude (between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, 18 27 kilometers) and between the drones themselves, creating a true network.

“There are a lot of moving parts that must move together to ensure that it works,” admitted Yael Maguire. But the result looks like “an internet backbone with lasers in the sky”.