Facebook reportedly wants to use long-flying drones to bring Internet connectivity to people in places that have never been online.
The social media giant — a primary backer of the Internet.org initiative that has set a goal to bring the internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have it — has focused attention on an aviation company that has built unmanned aerial vehicles that can stay airborne for up to five years.
Facebook apparently wants to use these unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver Internet access to remote places, beginning with Africa. According to the TechCrunch sources, Titan Aerospace would start by building 11,000 of their “Solara 60″ UAV model.
Titan’s Solara 60 is essentially a drone that can act like an orbital satellite. The term atmospheric satellite is given to the near-orbital vehicle, which can conduct many of the same operations, like weather monitoring or earth imaging, for pennies on the dollar compared to a payload launched into space.
Titan first introduced the Solara 60 last year, and the overview and simulations can be seen in this YouTube video:
Titan and Facebook have not responded to official requests for comment about the project. The UAV project would have few hurdles; vehicles that are classified as satellites — flying at altitudes roughly 65,000 feet away from the earth — would not interfere with commercial aviation and are essentially unregulated. So the two companies could launch this project as soon as they figure out how to accomplish the initial climb.
To see Titan’s real-world drone test flights check out this video.
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