Facebook’s solar-powered internet drones are finally hitting the skies this year

Facebook drones

Facebook drones

No, it’s not a summer blockbuster in the works. Facebook is really going to start testing drones to beam internet access to people within the next few months.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the drone is called Aquila and will start doing its rounds when summer hits the States this year.

Announced almost exactly one year ago, the ambitious stunt is part of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative which seeks to give between 1.1 billion and 2.8 billion unconnected people access to the web.

“Depending on how this test flight goes, we’ll see what happens,” Facebook’s vice president of engineering Jay Parikh said in an interview with the WSJ. “This is a big plane, this is a big project and it’s never been done before.”

The largest social network’s solar-powered internet drone has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but only weighs as much as a small car. Go ahead and read that sentence again.

The design sounds very similar to that of the Solar Impulse 2 which is currently trekking around the globe in an attempt to break a world record.

Facebook is not the only character starring in this sci-fi film-to-be. Google’s Project Loon, which uses balloons and wind currents to give internet access to people in rural areas, has taken to the skies last year when it started testing in New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Chile and Uruguay.

Read more: Google invests $1 billion in SpaceX as 21st century Space Race heats up

Google, through its post-billion dollar commitment to Elon Musk’s private space exploration company, is also putting its money on another much more out-of-this world project. Musk’s ambitious company SpaceX is looking to beam fast internet to around 3 billion people around the globe using satellites floating around in outer space.

According to the WSJ, the Internet.org initiative has so far helped over seven million people from seven different countries get access to basic internet services like Facebook, bulking up its user base. By working with key telecom players, other free applications provided through Internet.org include weather, news, Wikipedia and some essential health services.

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