: Facebook's Aquila drone takes off for test flight

12:26 Jul. 22, 2016

Facebook's Aquila drone takes off for test flight

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerber gives his speach during the presentation of the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge on February 21, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Getty Images)

Aquila takes a first flight in mission to provide Internet access to remote areas

Social media giant Facebook announced Thursday the first successful flight of its unmanned solar-powered aircraft — the Aquila drone. The ambitious project hopes to bring the internet to remote parts of the world by beaming down internet connections, International Business Times reports.

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Aquila was developed at a warehouse in Bridgwater, Somerset, in England by U.K.-based Ascenta, a drone designer that specializes in solar-powered drones. Facebook bought Ascenta in March 2014 and its owner Andy Cox is now the engineer behind Project Aquila.

The aircraft is expected to use new laser-beam technology to provide access to fast internet for people in a 60-mile radius as it circles the area above. The signal it emits will be received by the antennas of small towers and dishes on the ground, which will convert the signal into Wi-Fi or 4G networks.

According to Facebook, the drone's wingspan is wider than a Boeing 737, but because of its carbon fiber composition, it weighs less than 1,000 pounds — almost the same as a grand piano or a car. Its power consumption stands at about 5,000 watts, which is roughly the same as three hairdryers. Facebook is making attempts to refine the current model by making it even lighter and more energy efficient.

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