Facebook has successfully completed the first test flight of its solar-powered Aquila drone, beaming connectivity to a remote part of Arizona.
social network eventually wants to create a fleet of aircraft so more
people across the world can get online, and it called Thursday's
96-minute trial in the US a "big milestone".
a boomerang-shaped aircraft, can fly at 60,000 feet on about 5,000
watts of power, or "about as much as three hair dryers", for as long as
three months at a time.
The drone was put
together by Facebook's team from Ascenta – a small drone maker from
Somerset, UK – which Facebook acquired in March 2014.
head of engineering and infrastructure Jay Parikh, said: "Internet
access can offer life-changing opportunities and experiences to all of
us, but there are still 4bn people without it.
"As many as 1.6bn of
those unconnected people live in remote locations with no access to
mobile broadband networks, where implementing existing network
technologies is so challenging and costly that it will take years to
bring everyone affordable access."
course, Facebook isn't the only major tech firm planning to beam the
internet to cut-off areas of the world. Google's parent company Alphabet
is planning to do the same thing but using high-altitude balloons.