Aquila, the company's solar powered drone, flew for almost two hours during tests last month.
(CCM) — Facebook has taken a giant step forward in its project to provide internet access to remote regions from solar powered drones, the company's Martin Luis Gomez has announced in a blog post. It has successfully tested a prototype drone, nicknamed Aquila, during a flight in Arizona which lasted one hour and 46 minutes. Aquila's first test flight last summer ended abruptly when the drone crash-landed in heavy winds.
This time there was no embarrassing ending to the flight, and the only surprise was a happy one, according to Gomez. "The climb rate — at 180 ft/min — was nearly twice as fast as on our first flight," he said. "We attribute this to the numerous refinements to Aquila — especially a smoother finish — that were based on learnings from our first flight." The drone ultimately reached an altitude of 3,000 feet during the test.
Facebook's goal is to operate a fleet of drones flying at 60,000 feet, staying aloft for months at a time and communicating with each other by laser. Individual drones will then transmit internet data down to users on the surface of the planet by radio. Facebook has not announced an expected date when the fleet will be operational, but Gomez said that Aquila's design will continue to be refined over the coming months.
The social network announced earlier this week that it now has more than two billion monthly active users.
Image: © Facebook.