Mark Zuckerberg flaunts the laser system that will be fitted to Facebook’s fleet of drones to beam the internet to everyone

Mark Zuckerberg has shown off the lasers that it hopes could beam the internet from a fleet of giant drones.


The firm is building a fleet of drones capable of flying at 65,000ft (19,800 metres) and staying in the air for months.

Now the first details of their communication system have emerged.

‘As part of our efforts, we’re working on ways to use drones and satellites to connect the billion people who don’t live in range of existing wireless networks,’ said Mark Zuckerberg.

‘Our Connectivity Lab is developing a laser communications system that can beam data from the sky into communities.

‘This will dramatically increase the speed of sending data over long distances.


‘Normally you wouldn’t be able to see the actual beams, but for this demonstration we made them visible.

‘This is just one connectivity project we’re working on, but I was excited to share this with you.

The firm has already begun flying its giant drones designed to bring internet access to the world, Mark Zuckerberg has previously revealed.

‘As part of our effort to connect the world, we’ve designed unmanned aircraft that can beam internet access down to people from the sky,’ he posted on his Facebook page.

‘Today, I’m excited to share that we’ve successfully completed our first test flight of these aircraft in the UK.’


‘The final design will have a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737 but will weigh less than a car.

‘It will be powered by solar panels on its wings and it will be able to stay at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for months at a time.’

‘Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world because they can affordably serve the 10% of the world’s population that live in remote communities without existing internet infrastructure.’

At Facebook’s f8 conference in San Francisco, the firm’s Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer revealed the firm thought drones were key to getting connectivity around the world.

‘This basically mean going to the sky,’ Schroepfer says.

He showed off the Aquila, an Internet-connected unmanned drone with the wingspan of a 737 and the ‘mass of a small car.’

At a summit in New York earlier this year, Facebook’s engineering director announced the vehicles will be closer in size to jumbo jets, than traditional drones, and they’ll soar at 65,000ft (19,800 metres).

Following the tests, it could then be just three to five years until the super-sized, solar-powered drones are hovering above remote parts of the world to provide internet access.

In March this year, Facebook acquired British drone maker Ascenta for an estimated £12.5 million ($20.2 million).

The company is run by chief engineer Andrew Cox who has helped set records for the longest flights for unmanned aircraft powered by the sun.

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