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Facebook on Thursday said it is ready to begin test flights of a high-altitude drone designed to provide Internet access to remote locations of the world.The Aquila drone has a wingspan on par with that of a Boeing 737 jet; weighs less than a small car; can remain aloft for three months or so, and will beam Internet service to the ground from altitudes ranging from 60,000 to 90,000 feet (18,000 to 27,000 meters).
Yael Maguire, the engineering director of the project, told journalists the team had "achieved a significant milestone" with laser communications for high-speed data connections that are faster than most current speeds.
Using the drone could mean "quickly bringing connectivity to an area that needs it," he said at a presentation at Facebooks California headquarters.
"Our goal is to accelerate the development of a new set of technologies that can drastically change the economics of deploying Internet infrastructure," Facebook vice president of global engineering and infrastructure Jay Parikh said in a blog post.
Data fired off by the lasers can hit a target "the size of a dime from more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) away."
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