Google is testing solar-powered drones that deliver 5G internet


I’m sure we’ve all heard about Google’s plan to create a system of delivery drones by now, but deliveries aren’t the only thing Google wants to use drones for. According to a report from the Guardian on Friday, the company is working on a secret project by the name of SkyBender, which involves using solar-powered drones to deliver 5G wireless internet to devices on the ground. The drones are being tested at Spaceport America in New Mexico, and will utilize high frequency millimeter waves that can theoretically transmit gigabits of data every second, which is more than forty times faster than the 4G LTE systems that we use currently.

Google is testing solar-powered drones at Spaceport America in New Mexico to explore ways to deliver high-speed internet from the air, the Guardian has learned. In a secretive project codenamed SkyBender, the technology giant built several prototype transceivers at the isolated spaceport last summer, and is testing them with multiple drones, according to documents obtained under public records laws. In order to house the drones and support aircraft, Google is temporarily using 15,000 square feet of hangar space in the glamorous Gateway to Space terminal designed by Richard Foster for the much-delayed Virgin Galactic spaceflights. The tech company has also installed its own dedicated flight control centre in the nearby Spaceflight Operations Center, separate from the terminal. Based out of the site near the town called Truth or Consequences, Project SkyBender is using drones to experiment with millimetre-wave radio transmissions, one of the technologies that could underpin next generation 5G wireless internet access. High frequency millimetre waves can theoretically transmit gigabits of data every second, up to 40 times more than today’s 4G LTE systems. Google ultimately envisages thousands of high altitude “self-flying aircraft” delivering internet access around the world.

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