Facebook completes first full-scale drone for spreading Internet access to remote regions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2015
Facebook has finished construction of its first full-scale drone designed to provide Intenet access to remote regions of the planet, part of a larger program called Aquila.




The drone will be tested in skies above the U.S. later this year, Reuters reported. Though weighing just 880 pounds, the vehicle has a 46-yard wingspan, and will need helium balloons to lift it up into the air. Once aloft, it will cruise around a two-mile radius at altitudes between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, avoiding both weather and commercial air traffic.

It will soar to the higher altitude during the day, descending to 60,000 feet at night to save energy. Facebook said the craft should be able to stay airborne for 90 days at a time.

On the subject of U.S. testing, an engineering director at Facebook, Yael Maguire, said that while the company doesn't currently face any regulatory obstacles, it's collaborating with policymakers on guidelines.

For Facebook, Aquila will offer the indirect benefit of creating more Internet users, in theory exposing them to its services and advertising. Similarly, another ongoing Facebook program -- Internet.org -- has been bringing free Internet access to people in countries like India and Pakistan, but not without controversy.

Initially the program limited access to a relative handful of sties and services, including Facebook's. This raised concerns about net neutrality, and protests led the company to open up third-party access, albeit with restrictions like no HTTPS support, and a block on VoIP services. Internet providers can also choose to reject services entirely.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    Why am I thinking, "For surveillance on us!"
    Is it the shape of the aircraft... or is it a new phase for Facemuck?
  • Reply 2 of 16
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I believe it was Bill Gates that said Internet wasn't even in the top five list of things Africa needs. I think I will trust him over others whose business success is predicated on everyone accessing the Internet.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,973member
    rogifan wrote: »
    I believe it was Bill Gates that said Internet wasn't even in the top five list of things Africa needs. I think I will trust him over others whose business success is predicated on everyone accessing the Internet.

    Seeing how we lived for eons without the Internet I don't think it's a 'need'.
  • Reply 4 of 16
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    Seeing how we lived for eons without the Internet I don't think it's a 'need'.



    Humans lived for thousands of years without, electricity, written language, cars, refrigeration, vaccines, gunpowder, corrective lenses, plastic, steel and lots of stuff that in today's world are things most people would agree, we 'need'. Needs change. Modern civilization cannot exist without the internet. That is why everyone was so concerned in Y2K, that trains would go off the rails.

     

    That said, we definitely don't need Facebook.

  • Reply 5 of 16
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,342member

    If it's anything like FaceBook, it'll take off, the privacy policy will change, it'll spy on you and tell everyone you know what you are doing.

  • Reply 6 of 16
    afrodriafrodri Posts: 190member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I believe it was Bill Gates that said Internet wasn't even in the top five list of things Africa needs. I think I will trust him over others whose business success is predicated on everyone accessing the Internet.

     

    I think the difference is that Bill Gates was talking about humanitarian needs (i.e. food, water, vaccines, etc...).  As I understand, Facebook isn't doing this as a humanitarian venture but as a business venture.  Whether FB can make money off this is less certain, but they aren't trying to address 'needs' they are trying to provide a service for money.

  • Reply 7 of 16
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    afrodri wrote: »
    I think the difference is that Bill Gates was talking about humanitarian needs (i.e. food, water, vaccines, etc...).  As I understand, Facebook isn't doing this as a humanitarian venture but as a business venture.  Whether FB can make money off this is less certain, but they aren't trying to address 'needs' they are trying to provide a service for money.

    You're right but don't think for a second Zuckerberg (and Page) isn't try to pass this off as something altruistic because that's exactly what they're doing and what they want people to think.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,973member
    mstone wrote: »
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    Seeing how we lived for eons without the Internet I don't think it's a 'need'.



    Humans lived for thousands of years without, electricity, written language, cars, refrigeration, vaccines, gunpowder, corrective lenses, plastic, steel and lots of stuff that in today's world are things most people would agree, we 'need'. Needs change. Modern civilization cannot exist without the internet. That is why everyone was so concerned in Y2K, that trains would go off the rails.

    That said, we definitely don't need Facebook.

    If we can go a week without it we really don't need it. There are plenty of people that live just fine without many of the things you listed in this day and age.
  • Reply 9 of 16
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    If we can go a week without it we really don't need it. 

     

    Perhaps you could personally go a week without the internet but not the whole society. It would be a mess without it because so many industrial applications and public utilities depend on it these days.

  • Reply 10 of 16
    dachardachar Posts: 330member

    It can't take off unaided. How is this drone able to stay in the skies for 90 days? Does it have a power source like batteries or use solar? What happens is it goes wrong? Will it fall to ground out of control or glide down to a safe and automated landing missing any people, animals, property, roads, railways etc? Could its control be jammed or taken over by cyber criminals or hackers? 

  • Reply 11 of 16
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,982member
    rogifan wrote: »
    I believe it was Bill Gates that said Internet wasn't even in the top five list of things Africa needs. I think I will trust him over others whose business success is predicated on everyone accessing the Internet.

    Not to detract from your intent in saying that but I wouldn't trust Bill Gates as far as I could throw him.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    Piss off, Zuckerberg and take Larry with you.
    Leeches, the pair of them.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    Excellent, I was planning on traveling to Africa to hunt rare lions and was very worried about whether I'd be able to like that picture of a puppy tripping over a cute kitten that some random acquaintance just posted.

    Certainly more entertaining than watching the flies buzz around malnourished natives struggling to survive untreated disease and rampant oppression from fanatics, am I right?

    Thanks, Zuck!





    (for those of you with broken sarcasm detectors, yes, that was dripping with it)
  • Reply 14 of 16
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,448member
    The last time I checked Wi-Fi does not work over a few hundred feet and cell data a few miles. This thing is going to be 12 miles up. Yeah the could transmit down at higher power but your computer and cell phone could not transmit that far. So how does this thing work and what kind of equipment do you need on the ground. It sounds costly. It sounds like Mr Z bought into some stupid researchers idea and decided to give him money.
  • Reply 15 of 16
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    I think it looks amazing. It reminds me of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose.

  • Reply 16 of 16
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 622member
    At 880 pounds, even if it were to dive straight down (hopefully it is weighted to go into a looping decent and not nose dive upon loss of power) it wouldn't do a ton of damage. Could kill if it lands just right, for sure.
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