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Facebook to test ambitious drone project

Satellite

Facebook to test ambitious drone project

Many people were staggered when social network Facebook revealed that it planned to release internet-connecting drones into the atmosphere. However, the company now intends to get a test drone in the air as early as next year.

While media coverage of unmanned drones has been largely negative, the popular social site is aiming to broaden people’s perceptions by using the technology to provide online connectivity.

The ambitious plan would see the company deliver web access to the 15% of the world that currently remains untouched by the Internet – a resource used every day by a large percentage of the world’s population.

Yael Maguire, the engineering director at the company’s Connectivity Lab, said at the 2014 Social Good Summit that the fleet of drones will circle the globe at a height of 90,000 feet and would use solar power to provide connections to around 21 countries throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Maguire also suggests that there would be no regulatory issues and that the aircraft would fly unmanned for several months. This is ambitious in itself, as the current record for an object of this type remaining airborne in a single stretch is just two weeks.

This project is part of Facebook’s internet marketing strategy to attract more users to its services, and is set to test the first drone by launching it in 2015 at an undisclosed location in the US, with the fully functional drones set to be launched in three to five years, at the earliest.

Alan Littler
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