Facebook is making a solar-powered drone to deliver the internet with lasers

Facebook is designing, developing, and building a giant, solar-powered, drone called Aquila that will beam internet data down to remote places.

It might be hard to believe, but there are still 4 billion people around the world who don’t have access to internet, according to Facebook. 

This is how Aquila is being built and how it will bring internet to the remotest of regions.


This is Aquila, the high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft designed by Facebook's aerospace team in the UK. It will deliver internet service to extremely hard-to-reach places around the world.

To do so, internet data will be beamed up from terrestrial relay stations to an Aquila aircraft, where the data will be transmitted among other Aquilas in the air.

Then, internet data is transmitted down to regions where traditional internet delivery methods can't realistically reach.

To deliver internet connectivity, Facebook plans to use lasers.

With these lasers, Facebook needs to 'hit a dime from four miles.'

And they need to account for 40 kilometers of propagation from the atmosphere, which means the lasers will face interference that results in de-focusing.

The Aquila aircraft is powered by solar power. It will fly above normal aircraft traffic at around 60,000 to 90,000 feet for up to three months.

For an Aquila aircraft to fly for such long periods of time, it needs to be a lightweight and have a stiff design. The engineers are using 88-gram T700 carbon fibre that's been cured, which is 3 times as strong as steel, but still lighter than aluminium.

The Aquila aircraft will use propellers. It's a mix of antiquated aircraft technology and some of the most advanced developments to date.

There are working scale models going on test flights now. It has a wingspan of 42 meters, which is the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but it weighs less than a car.

There's no set date for deployment yet, and the Facebook team says there's still a long way to go.

Check out the video to learn more.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.