A few days ago Mark Zuckerberg announced that “Aquila” (Eagle), the drone he has been working on for more than a year, has successfully completed its maiden flight, staying aloft for 92 minutes, about three times the time programmed by the test designers. This is a first success in the Facebook project to bring Internet access in rural areas of the planet through a fleet of drones that radiate the signal to ground.
The idea of the social network from Palo Alto is to use the technology of UAVs to bring the Internet to people in hard to reach areas (mountains, remote regions etc.) through movable flying “radio links“. The drone used for the test has a wingspan of 40 meters, weighs 400 kg and is powered by solar panels installed on the wings: the goal is to make “Aquila” fly non-stop for three months, accumulating daytime the solar energy it takes to fly even at night. Each “drones squadron” will consist of a lead drone who receives the Internet signal from the ground and retransmits it to others drones. Each drone can cover an area of 50 kilometers in diameter and provide “tens of gigabits per second”.