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This Facebook robot walks on power lines to install fiber-optic cable

Facebook has developed an aerial fiber deployment solution that uses a robot to safely deploy a specialised fiber-optic

Facebook

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  15 July 2020 10:32 AM GMT

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook has developed an aerial fiber deployment solution that uses a robot to safely deploy a specialised fiber-optic cable on medium-voltage (MV) power lines that can dramatically lower the cost of deploying fiber by utilising electrical infrastructure.

Each robot will be capable of installing over a kilometre of fiber and passing the dozens of intervening obstacles autonomously in approximately an hour and a half.

To account for the human interaction steps such as setup, loading and unloading the robot, installing transitions, etc., Facebook estimates an overall build speed of 1.5 km to 2 km per robot per day on average.

"We expect the total cost, including labour, depreciation, and materials, to be between $2 and $3 per metre in developing countries," Facebook said in a statement on Monday.

The system, which utilises the electrical grid to build out internet infrastructure, will be cheaper than the existing methods of laying internet cables, particularly in developing countries.

Developed by the team at Facebook Connectivity, the system combines innovations in the fields of robotics and fiber-optic cable design.

"If successful, we believe this technology will allow fiber to effectively and sustainably be deployed within a few hundred metres of much of the world's population. We expect to see technology trials of this fiber deployment system next year," Facebook said.

Facebook has identified NetEquity Networks as the first partner to deploy this new innovative technology. As of 2019, more than 70 per cent of the world's population lives more than 10 km from fiber.

The idea of utilizing electrical infrastructure first came to Facebook after it saw the ubiquity of electrical grid infrastructure while traveling across rural Africa. (IANS)

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