Not content with trying to take over your phone, Facebook wants to use giant laser-armed drones provide Internet access to your home.
At Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, the social network announced the project codenamed Aquila.
Drones with the same wingspan as a Boeing 767 (48 metres) would cruise at altitudes approaching 87,000 feet, serving up red hot doses of Internet to those who don’t currently have access to it.
British company Ascenta, which Facebook acquired in 2014, have been tipped to make the drones. The UAVs would weigh less than the average family car, owing to lightweight materials, and could fly for as long as three months at a time with the help of solar technology.
The laser tech on board the vehicles would allow them to send internet connectivity to communities below and also communicate with each other across vast distances.
The Aquila drones form an integral part of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative, which aims to deliver internet access to people around the globe who are out of reach of conventional mobile and land-based networks.
Ultimately, Zuckerberg hopes to deploy a fleet of 1,000 of the aircraft to get communities connected. “Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world, because they can affordably serve the 10 per cent of the world’s population that live in remote communities without existing internet infrastructure,” said Zuckerberg.
Using lasers to send and receive data isn’t a new idea. Last year, NASA successfully beamed data to and from the moon at speeds of 622Mbps. On a much smaller scale, Edinburgh-based PureLiFi is working bringing LiFi – light-based WiFi – into homes and offices.
The initiative will join others, like Google’s Project Loon and real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellite network, in trying to solve the pressing quandary of delivering reliable internet access to the most remote communities on the planet.
Aquila drones will begin scudding through the clouds over the UK on their first test flights this summer.