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Meet Aquila, Facebook's solar-powered internet drone with Boeing 737 span

Shweta Sengar | Updated on: 22 July 2016, 8:52 IST

Facebook just announced the completion of its first drone. The drone, reportedly, has a wingspan of Boeing 737 and will beam internet in the remote parts of the world.

Facebook stated that the tests will be conducted in the US later in 2015.

Zuckerberg shared Facebook post saying:

"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."

Drone stats

The plane weighs around 400 kilograms and operates between 60,000ft (18km) and 90,000ft (27km) above the altitude of commercial planes. Therefore, these would not be affected by weather. It has a wingspan of 42 metres.

Jay Parikh, vice-president of engineering, said: "Our mission is to connect everybody in the world."

"This is going to be a great opportunity for us to motivate the industry to move faster on this technology."

Programme Aquila

The drone is a part of Facebook's programme called Aquila which will provide internet to the population who have no access to it.

First published: 22 July 2016, 8:52 IST