When Facebook and drones are mentioned in the same sentence it’s natural to think the sky is the limit (pun intended) in terms of invasion of privacy. People are used to thinking that drones are meant for spying. But drones do have better uses, for example beaming Internet to remote places over land, and that is exactly what Facebook is intending to do here.
Facebook, who are part of the internet.org initiative which is aimed at providing affordable Internet access to billions of people without connectivity in underdeveloped countries is in talks to buy drone maker Titan Aerospace for $60m, according to reports. This deal would further advance Facebook’s efforts in connecting people.
According to the company’s website, Titan Aerospace is developing a wide range of solar powered “atmospheric satellites” that have many uses including weather monitoring, earth imaging, oil spill mapping, and voice and data communications, the latter of which interests Facebook.
These solar powered drones can stay airborne for five years without having to land or refuel making it ideal to provide Internet connections to isolated places in need of it. If the deal goes through, Titan Aerospace will shift all of its production towards Facebook’s internet.org project by manufacturing around 11,000 of its model Solara 60 drones.
How will this benefit Facebook?
Apart from being the primary backers of the internet.org initiative, Facebook hopes it would bring some business benefits in the long run. For one, more Internet access to everyone in the world would mean they have more access to Facebook’s services such as the social networking site itself, Instagram, and the recently acquired mobile app Whatsapp. Facebook wants to provide users affordable Internet access so they can reap the benefits of it in the long run with an increase in user base.
It’s not just Facebook, other tech companies have also taken to the skies to provide wireless Internet access. Google’s project Loon, which was launched last year does a similar job in beaming Internet to remote regions albeit with the help of solar-powered air balloons instead of drones.
The tech giants square up once again but this time in the skies. Drones vs Balloons, Facebook vs Google. Who will win? Sound off your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo credits: titanaerospace.com
About the contributor: VR has a passion for sports, technology and astronomy and can often be found either at the field playing soccer or at the astronomical observatory exploring the vast beautiful universe. You can find him on twitter @veroncfc23