This past weekend Facebook had its first successful run delivering Internet to people with no previous connection, all via its new Aquila drone.
The company flew the unmanned aircraft over Yuma, Arizona last month to test sending rays of connectivity to billions of people on the ground with no access to the web. For 96 minutes, the drone flew over the city to transmit solar-powered lasers to receivers on the ground. The rays were able function up to 30 miles in any direction, with high speeds up to tens of thousands of gigabytes per second.
Weighing in at almost half a ton and spanning 140 feet, a size comparable to Boeing’s 747, the aircraft is bigger than Facebook desires. The social media giant plans to send its drones over various Internet-lacking cities for over 90 days at a time with heights between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. In order to successfully accomplish this, the team must tweak the design to make the drones lighter and smaller.
The fleets are part of Facebook’s two-year-old Connectivity Lab project, which focuses on building revolutionary inventions to bring Internet to parts of the world that are still disconnected. In addition to the Aquila drone, the company is working on other satellites and ground communication systems to improve web access. More than 4 billion people in the world are in the dark and offline. Facebook’s goal is to provide primarily developing or third world countries with faster access to news and an easier way to connect with people outside of their own communities.
Facebook isn’t the only one with ideas to enhance life through drones. Drones don’t only serve as innovational tech, but can also be used for recreational purposes. With new Star Wars films expected to make their debut next year, the saga decided to take their gadgets to the shelves.
RC toy company Propel is launching four drones in the fall to resemble the types of aircrafts spotted in the Lucasfilm epic. In just a few months, fans of the faraway galaxy will be able to purchase toy drones imitating Tie Fighter, X-Wing, the Millennium Falcon and a Return of the Jedi-style speed bike. The contraptions will be sold at roughly $200-$300 each—great for gifting or personal enjoyment, or collecting a fleet to have airborne battles with friends.
The toy drones, although marketed as solely plastic toys, have the capability to reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour and come equipped with built-in laser-tag type functions for teaming up against friends or showing off aerial tricks. For fanatics looking to delve more into the Star Wars universe, these are the drones you’re looking for.
From autonomous flying cameras to unmanned combat aerial vehicles, drones are igniting change throughout the world, giving various communities easier and faster access to international information, or in the case of Star Wars, entertainment.
Other huge corporations such as Google, BBC and the FAA are permitted to fly drones over land and are currently searching for ways to heighten aerial innovation.