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Drones: Could they close the connectivity gap?

By Catalina Mejia

Drones are the hottest new “gadget” and as Professor Chidamber mentioned in one of the most recent videos, drones could play a vital role in bridging the gap between many of the problems we have today and their corresponding solutions (i.e. efficiently providing medical supplies to disaster areas using a GPS).

However, I would like to focus on one specific drone and that is the Aquila Facebook solar-powered plane that is part of a fleet providing internet access to parts of Sub-Saharan African and beyond. I was extremely fortunate to have been working at Facebook when they tested Aquila for the first time last year and to this day, I am extremely impressed by not only the plane, but also by the thought process that was put into this invention. An important thing to note is that Aquila is an unmanned aircraft that has been designed to fly non-stop for 3 months and the idea is that it uses lasers  to beam down internet access to remote areas without online capacity.

With that in mind, I think Aquila is just a preview of the incredible potential and significant impact drones can have on our future. I strongly believe that Aquila has positive consequences for global society because it enables increased connectivity between people located in remote areas and the rest of the world, which could make a difference in the well being of individuals as well as countries as a whole. For example and within the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, having the ability to connect to the web could mean a greater opportunity for individuals to utilize the resources available to them through the internet like education. Individuals would have the ability to educate themselves on current news and learn more about topics they are interested in or even use when considering their careers down the line. According to research done by the Borgen Project, the lack of education greatly contributes to the “poverty trap” and the inability to rise up in society largely due to lack of resources, and inventions like Aquila could remedy this problem.

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