Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has announced that progress is being made in the design of light aircraft that could enable the Internet to cover areas of the world currently lacking an online footprint.
As he writes on Facebook:
“I’m excited to announce we’ve completed construction of our first full scale aircraft, Aquila, as part of our Internet.org effort.
Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.
We’ve also made a breakthrough in laser communications technology. We’ve successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That’s ten times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away.
This effort is important because 10% of the world’s population lives in areas without existing internet infrastructure. To affordably connect everyone, we need to build completely new technologies.
Using aircraft to connect communities using lasers might seem like science fiction. But science fiction is often just science before its time. Over the coming months, we will test these systems in the real world and continue refining them so we can turn their promise into reality. Here’s a video showing the building of Aquila.”
Video shot one year ago: