Social Media

The Huge Solar-Powered Facebook Drone Takes Flight

Jul 25, 2016 at 3:50 PM ET

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a flying manifestation of an enormous multinational that sees every single thing we do and knows us better than we know ourselves or our loved ones? Ha ha ha, no, silly, it’s just Facebook’s new solar-powered drone, which recently took to the air for the first time and is totally harmless.

The first full-scale test flight of the not-at-all-malevolent-looking Aquila Facebook drone occurred on June 28, and lasted for 96 minutes.

It was originally scheduled to last just half an hour, but it performed better than expected and hung out in the sky for an extra hour and six minutes, definitely on purpose, not in a sentient I’m-not-coming-down way. The giant carbon-fiber internet bat will beam down a wifi signal from 60,000 feet while staying aloft for up to three months at a time.The company plans to use Aquila to help get the rest of the world’s population online–and on Facebook. They are basically throwing up a giant flying Starbucks with no coffee but from which you can cadge a decent signal to update your Instagram.

To lighten its load, the autonomous drone uses a special dolly to help it take off instead of using traditional landing gear.

Facebook had tested a 1/5 scale version before, but a full-scale version hadn’t gotten off the ground until recently. If everything goes to plan, another 4 billion people will get to “Like” and comment on photos of Fido. And contribute their personal data to the world’s biggest human algorithm in history which is in no way worrying, even if it directly mirrors the disturbing plot of the film Ex Machina which ended really well for the humans.