Last year, Facebook teamed up with other software giants to bring about a world where everyone is connected. This partnership resulted in Internet.Org. And how are they planning to do that? It’s crazy, but it’s the good crazy, not to mention ambitious. Instead of simply dealing with ISPs, Facebook has a team of talented people working on solar-powered drones that will stay in the air for months and will provide internet in remote regions and 3rd-world countries access using lasers.
The drones will stay about 65,000 feet in the air; out of the way of commercial airplanes and helicopters and lower chance of interference of flight from winds and weather. They’ll run on solar power during the day, and a battery during night.
For the remote geographical regions, the team is working on something called Free-Space Optical Communication (FSO) which uses light to transmit data through space using invisible infrared laser beams. If successful, the speed will be similar to those of Fiber Optical connections.
The team working on this project comprises of people from Facebook’s own infrastructure and OpenCompute team, in addition to the recently acquired UK-based aerospace company Ascenta which has people with deep experience in drones and high-altitude vehicles. They’ve also worked for Boeing, QinetiQ, Harris Corporation etc.
In addition to Ascenta, talented people from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Ames Research Center and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory are also involved. So, the success rate of this ambitious project is quite good.
This removes the obstacles of land matters and dealing with local companies. Sounds a bit crazy, but previously, a solar-powered plane Solar Impulse powered with 11,000 solar cells managed to cover a distance of 957 miles solely from solar power. 1/3 of the world is connected to the internet, and Internet.Org is hoping to bring the remaining 2/3 to the global village.