In news that sounds as if we’ve beamed it back from a dystopian future, Facebook’s built a bloody enormous plane that can magically stay in the air for three whole months and gives the earth free internet…
But you know there’s more to it than the headline, because you’re here, reading our words.
To repeat, that drone has finally been built, something Facebook announced today. You can see from that picture just how big it is. It fills an entire bloomin’ warehouse, for starters.
Right, so why have Facebook built a drone then?
Two thirds of the world still don’t have access to basic mobile internet. You might take your fancy-pants 4G for granted, while browsing this very excellent website, but third world countries still struggle to contact people they need to.
So who put Facebook in charge of that?
No one, actually. Google’s got a similar project in the works, which uses helium-powered balloons to achieve similar goals, called Project Loon (which, despite the name, doesn’t feature mental instability).
Cool. What’s special about Facebook’s version, then?
Well, the drone (named Aquila) is stronger than steel and powered by the sun, which is how it’s able to stay in the air for 90 days. The tech used to provide internet is cool, too, with a complex system of lasers that fire at ground receivers (as well as at other drones), generating signal directly underneath.
Er, if it’s in the air then won’t it get hit by planes?
Not this one. The drones are flying above 60,000 feet, which’ll keep them well clear of commercial aircraft. There’s no chance of your toy ‘copter bumping into one either.
Surely the signal will a bit naff at that height?
According to Facebook, there’s been a significant breakthrough in developing world-class internet speeds, designing and testing a laser that can deliver data at 10s of GB per second. Hopefully they’ll do the same thing with those terrible free WiFi spots, which are supposedly only a few metres away.
Will it deliver my mail?
Very funny. The Amazon drones are flying much lower and through less urban areas wherever possible. They’re also only about half a metre big, as opposed to Facebook’s drone that’s got the wingspan of a Boeing 737.