The original Facebook aircraft that will distribute the Internet with a laser is getting ready to take off. It will be powered by solar energy, which will be collected by its wings, made of V-shaped carbon fibers. Its connectivity will reach 10Gbit per second. The company said it would begin test flights "very soon."
Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer said processes were under way to launch the first ship - called Aquila -.
But Schroepfer did not reveal the exact location of the first flight. However, he said Facebok was looking for partners to help project Aquila, according to TheRegister.
This means that Facebook is looking for companies that could continue to improve the project, as well as manufacturers that will create an Aquilas fleet.
The largest social network is reportedly manufacturing the laser drone within 14 months in a secret facility at Somerset, using a team of experts with knowledge of the field of solar-fueled flight, according to Schroepfer. Again, however, he did not reveal the location of the facilities or people involved.
Aquila was first introduced in July when Mark Zuckerberg announced that it would distribute internet connections to parts of the world that do not have access to the Internet.
Facebook is already working with satellite providers, and as part of that plan - it announced an agreement with Eurelsat to develop the Internet in sub-Saharan Africa in October.
The idea of Aquila is a fleet of drones that fly very slowly and continuously for periods of up to three months, around non-internet areas in an area of 11 miles. The Aquila fleet will fly at a height of 30.000 meters, well above the level of normal commercial airfreight routes.
The prototype is enormous: four engines in an area of 43 acres, slightly larger than a Boeing 737, but much, much lighter: from 800 to 900 pounds compared to the 124.500 737 lances.
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Solar cells will store energy in lithium-ion batteries.