This summer Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is planning to test one of its drones powered by solar energy. If the test is successful, the company shall succeed in providing internet access to people still living without it throughout the world. Few days back, the company had tested a smaller drone, which was only one-tenth of the model, currently being worked upon. This solar-powered model will be similar to a Boeing 737 in its size and a small car in terms of weight. It has been named Aquila and it is targeting to reach internet access to 1.1 to 2.8 billion people.
There are still millions of people throughout the world deprived of traditional landlines and cellular networks. Facebook and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is specifically targeting this set of consumer base. Apart from drones, Facebook is working upon satellite and other technologies while Google is experimenting with high-altitude balloons.
Facebook’s vice-president of engineering, Jay Parikh, has said the company may conduct the tests on solar-powered drones in the coming summer. However, the project poses a number of serious challenges.
For example, before conducting a model test, the company would have to work out various safety and communication issues and also form alliances with carriers. Parikh also said that the solar and battery technology required to drive the Aquilla drone is a very recent development. This technology was not available even one year ago.
Parikh also said that Facebook has no intentions of coming in direct competition with any of the mobile carriers. This would be in violation of the core objectives of the company. Also, the project requires a huge amount of funds, and if Facebook gets it done all by itself, then project would get delayed. Infact, the company plans to form partnerships with these carriers in order to provide internet access to all.
Meanwhile, an additional seven million people have gained an access to basic internet including Facebook with the help of Internet.org initiative.