I so torn
Anyone know how good a laser is going to be through clouds?
Facebook's bonkers dream of beaming internet access to remote corners of the globe has taken yet another step – or perhaps that should be flight – closer to reality with its new flying laser drone. Engineers working for the free content ad network unveiled a massive Aquila autonomous drone, which is fitted with a laser …
Is there much in the way of cloud above 40,000 ft? Probably very managable, also remembering that the estimated 3bn people who don't have internet access are generally located around the central belt of the earth and in many of those countries the weather is quite consistent.
The article says "All the drone-to-drone and drone-to-station communications will be carried out by lasers beams"
Perhaps infra-red lasers can penetrate clouds?
I wonder how many birds/people/amateur astronomers pointing their telescopes in an unfortunate direction will be blinded by them?
You wouldn't/couldn't use optical communications to provide the links to each customer because you'd need thousands of separate beams. The only ground link laser can avoid clouds by relaying through an adjacent drone that isn't blocked by cloud. If the entire geography is blocked then you can always use wireless as a backup to provide resilience.
I can see these having a use in disaster relief. Most communications tend to be poor after earthquakes or typhoons and this has the potential to provide a life line to more rural areas.
It's easy to have a dig at Zuckerberg on here but this is quite a feat of engineering and it looks likely he will actually deliver it.
You might be right but power on the ground is usually a big problem during a disaster and not many places have a reliable UPS that can run more than a day. Contacting any kind of emergency services is also an issue. I would hope that they have a plan for this....
On the other hand, if he's only feeding his Internet.org or FB, then there's a problem.
There are some folks selling tethered drones for the usual video surveillance.
It seems like there should be a ready market for cheap and cheerful tethered drones acting like communications towers. e.g. Internet to villages.
Power supply on ground, endless duration of course. DC-DC converters to increase voltage on the 2-conductor tether cable, to reduce voltage drop. A simple drone, tethered, altitude about several hundred feet up. A heading control system, perhaps using a magnetic compass sensor, to keep vehicle antenna aligned, perhaps a moderately high gain antenna, not too high gain, picking up a network connection from perhaps about 25km away, and then relaying it down. A simple communications package. All powered by the tether.
This concept would be a fairly quick and cheap way to squirt communications links over moderately long distances over modest hills. Distant source ground station can employ a very high gain dish.
Power failure, perhaps a battery on standby, and GPS to guide it down. Tether might be commanded to spool in.
Lightning. Shielded tether, lightning probe above drone. Plenty of hardening of active circuits.
Just a concept...
Zuckberg's solution is regional, which is good in its own way.
The concept I've described is on the order of $2000, can be deployed in an hour, and would provide service to a village. Someone back at ISP HQ would need to install a 1m dish, aimed towards the village in question.
The biggest imponderable is how to deal with lightning.Detection (LF) or prediction ('net) and retreat might be simplest. Worst case, install a replacement the next morning.
Perhaps a nearby sacrificial lightning diversion tethered drone could be installed. Nothing but the propellers, motors, DC-DC converter. It flies nearby, within stepped leader range, and is intended to be hit. Only $400 as it's so simple.
Ideas, a dime a dozen.
Missing packets can be resent. That's built into the foundations of Internet Protocol, at least TCP.
With UDP streaming, you'll get a glitch. And you'll get to see how long until the full video frames are sent. Some video encoding settings are so aggressive that the image would stay smeared out as difference frames (character's mouth wandering around the screen separately from his head) for as long as ten seconds.
it can stay focused on a dime from a distance of ten or more miles away, we're told. This will enable the drones to pass information ... to ground stations.
So the drone spots coins on the ground, then sends messages back to the ground station telling somebody to go and pick them up. Impressive, but it doesn't sound like much of a revenue stream.
and fits the company line, everything else "experimented" or buried underneath the paid for political and social "content".
this is as "good" for the world as having Coca Cola solve drought in sub saharan Africa by shipping in megagallons of sugary carbonated soda.
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