Facebook is confirmed to be in talks in purchasing Titan Aerospace for a cool $60 million. According to Tech Crunch, Facebook is one of the bakers of the “internet.org initiative”, a project that aims to bring affordable internet access to 5 billion people in the world who don’t have it. Purchasing a company that specializes in information and communication drones may be the first step needed to achieve that goal.
From what is reported, Facebook is interested in using these high-flying drones to blanket parts of the world without Internet access. They plan to begin with Africa. The company would start by building 11,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), specifically the “Solara 60″ model which is screen captured above. They are “atmospheric satellites” that can do most of the operations of a regular orbital satellite. However, they are cheaper and more versatile. The drones also have exponential potential which includes weather monitoring, disaster recovery, Earth imaging, and communications. The latter part of the list is what Facebook is most interested in. This is probably another part of the internet plan which includes the purchase of the WhatsApp, previously reported by The Inquisitr.
The Solara 50 and 60 models can be launched at night using internal battery packs. Since they are designed with solar panels, they can store enough energy to ascend to 20KM above sea level. They’ll remain in orbit for five years without needing to land or refuel. Such capabilities make them ideal tech for regional Internet systems, the kind Internet.org would be most interested in.
According to sources Tech Crunch has, if Facebook does acquire Titan Aerospace, they will solely become a communications drone company to further the plans of the internet.org initiative.
The Christian Science Monitor however did include the legal issues the “internet drones” would have to face. According to their report, commercial drones in FAA airspace, which is a range from the ground up to 60,000 feet, require a certified aircraft, licensed pilot, and operating approval. Privately-owned drones can be operated in ares away from populated areas, such as cities, and must follow to the FAA’s model aircraft guidance. The companies in the private sector can obtain an experimental airworthiness certificate for research purposes.
The Solara 60 above 65,000 feet. This means the only issue for launching drones in the US would be the lift-off. However, the FAA is currently testing new regulations as advancements are made in drone technology. Many even believe that commercial drones may be more accepted in the near future.
With Facebook leading the charge, one may eventually come to a point that if you want to locate the source of your internet, you simply will have to look up.