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Facebook is building drones, satellites & lasers to make Internet services available to remote palces

On the second
day of F8,  the annual developer
conference of Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer, Facebook,
began by delivering a keynote on the next generation of technology that
Facebook is building to connect the world.

On the second
day of F8,  the annual developer
conference of Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer, Facebook,
began by delivering a keynote on the next generation of technology that
Facebook is building to connect the world.

Last August,
Facebook partnered with leading technology companies to launch Internet.org — a
global effort to make affordable basic internet services available to everyone
in the world. Today, Facebook announced that it is building drones, satellites
and lasers in its ‘Connectivity Lab’ to achieve that goal.

Mark Zuckerberg
previously announced its Aquila drones on Facebook, saying that the team is
made up of leading experts in aerospace and communications technology from
notable places like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research center.

Today, the
company announced that it has successfully conducted the first test flight of
its UAV platform, which will one day help connect people living in the world’s
most remote communities.

The drone
reportedly hovers at around 60,000 feet delivering internet for up to “months”
at a time. The drones have a wingspan that’s equivalent to that of a 737.

According to Facebook,
the altitude is the lowest permitted for unregulated airspace and this zone has
stable weather conditions and low wind speeds, which means the aircraft can easily
cruise and conserve power, while generating power through its solar panels during
the day to store in its batteries for overnight use.

The company has even
made available a detailed white
paper
on how it hopes to deliver internet to these regions using unmanned
drones.

According to the
whitepaper, Facebook’s approach to developing new platforms is based on the
principle that different communities need different technical solutions.

The company’s research
has shown that approximately 80-90% of the world’s population lives today in
areas already covered by 2G or 3G networks. These environments are mostly urban
or semi-urban, and the basic cell and fiber infrastructure has already been
constructed here by mobile operators. For most people, the obstacles to getting
online are primarily economic.

What Facebook
wants to do is:

  1. Fly as close to the ground as possible in
    order to maximize signal strength.
  2. Fly at a high enough altitude where the
    wind is not very strong in order to maximize endurance.
  3. Fly outside of regulated airspace for
    safety and quick deployment.
  4. Be able to precisely control the location
    of these aircraft, unlike balloons.
  5. Build the smallest structure possible so
    it requires minimal energy to stay aloft.
  6. Build a large enough structure that can
    effectively harvest all the energy it needs rom the sun.
  7. Build the cheapest structure so we can
    cost effectively produce enough to span many areas.
  8. Build a re-usable structure to make it
    more cost effective as well.

The team has
many of the world’s leading experts in aerospace and communications technology,
including from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center. Today, Facebook
announced that it is also bringing on key members of the team from Ascenta, a
small UK-based company whose founders created early versions of Zephyr, which
became the world’s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft. They will
join the team working on connectivity
aircraft
.

Image Source: agbeat.com

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