Facebook together with Internet.org has been working on drones to offer internet aces to remote locations around the world. In 2015, the company developed Project Aquila. The aim of the project is delivering information across a very long distance via laser technology.
We are now familiar with the fiber optic cables. Fiber optic cables transfer information on the internet. Verizon FIOS is currently the largest internet provider. Verizon delivers high-speed internet through the light. But providing the internet through fiber optics is dependent on cables.
The drones Facebook is developing will not rely on cables. The drones will send signals embedded in light through free space. But, Facebook has faced a few setbacks formulating and implementing this technology. First, the terminal signal point has to be optimized for information collection. Also, transmission of optics and light over long distances is somewhat difficult because of interference from environmental factors such as noise.
Nonetheless, The Facebook’s team of experts developing the drones had a breakthrough recently. In a published report, the group claims that it will use luminescence to improve signal detection through free space. If the idea is practical, the team will have revolutionized free space optical communication.
The team’s new approach will increase the field of view and effective area of an optical receiver without affecting the response time. The team utilized a physical structure to guide light. Wavelength shifting dyes covered the physical structure. The colors are there to absorb the light transmitted and emit it at different wavelengths. Some of the light emitted collected by the fiber. The light is then guided to a photodiode, which converts the light into electric current used in a semiconductor. T. Peyronel, K.J. Quirk, S.C. Wang and T.G. Tiecke presented this plan.
Scintillation effects, or twinkling, are other challenges to Project Aquila. Atmospheric turbulence causes twinkling. This turbulence is responsible for optical fluctuations that result in signal fading. According to the team of researchers, the luminescence technology they are developing will lower scintillation effects.
The technology is not new after all. Omnidirectional properties have been in use to concentrate light in solar energy collectors in the past.
Their research is nothing but promising. However, it is not enough to realize Project Aquila. The drones’ battery life is a challenge. Furthermore, the new optical technology the team is proposing needs more testing before real world applications.