SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Facebook showed off plans to provide internet to billions of people around the world using solar-powered laser drones.
Codenamed Aquila, the V-shaped unmanned vehicle has the wingspan of a Boeing 767 but weighs less than a small car.
During the developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday, Facebook showcased the new craft’s latest design, which can stay aloft for up to three months at a time.
Facebook said it hopes to connect with the five billion it has yet to reach by launching over 1,000 of these drones capable of beaming high-speed data with lasers from 60,000 to 90,000 feet to some of the world’s most remote regions.
“We want to serve every person in the world,” said Yael Maguire, head of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab. “Can we reach a point where everyone on the planet gets the same message at once? I’m looking forward to that day.”
The drones are expected to be tested this summer.
Earlier this month, Google announced its drone company Titan plans to conduct its maiden voyage this year of aircraft that would also provide internet to people on the ground.
Titan’s drone, described as an “atmospheric satellite,” can maintain high altitude for prolonged periods of time. The team is currently working on a new ultra-light drone that would be able to hover in the stratosphere for prolonged periods of time to send internet to a targeted area.