Drone retrofitted with a DARPA mobile hotspot unit.
With all of the talk of Facebook’s efforts to blanket the planet with drones that the company promises will provide global Wi-Fi accessibility, another technology leader, the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has also entered the drone Wi-Fi game.
Through DARPA’s new “Mobile Hotspots Program,” the agency has planned to retrofit a fleet of aging RQ-7 shadow drones that were once deployed for various surveillance missions by the US military in Iraq. The repurposed drones will now be used to help the military carry out operations in remote locations that lack Internet connectivity.
The hotspot program aims to provide a 1Gbps communications backbone to deployed units. In order to establish a secure connection from ground stations without requiring large antennas, each drone will be equipped with a lightweight, low-power pod, holding low-noise amplifiers, which DARPA claims can boost signals while minimizing background noise. The drones can apparently run for nine-hour shifts to provide continual coverage as needed.
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