Facebook laser drones to take on Google’s internet balloons

The internet arms race is heating up

Aquila drone Facebook

Aquila 1. Image via Facebook

Two of the world’s largest tech firms, Facebook and Google, are engaged in a race to build high-altitude craft that can beam internet down to black-spots below.

We previously detailed Google’s “Project Loon” plans which include floating archipelagos of balloons that will form rings round our planet.

But now, Facebook is planning tests of huge drones that will fly at high altitude and beam internet to unconnected regions below.

The drones were developed in Somerset in the UK, and have a wingspan wider than a Boeing 747 airliner, the BBC reports.

Aquila

The Aquila drone under construction

Facebook engineering chief Jay Parikh said: “It has not flown yet, that’s the next milestone.

“The whole structure is 142ft (43m) wide but weighs less than a Toyota Prius,” he added.

Facebook plans to send several of the drones, named Aquila 1, into the stratosphere at the same time, and they will use lasers to communicate across large distances.

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