Drones have been all the rage lately, with the Amazon Prime Air drones, Google’s Project Wing and DHL’s Parcelcopters. Facebook is getting in on the business, but with a much more interesting cause driving the company. Facebook will use the unmanned drones to deliver an internet connection to areas where people don’t have access to it.
Facebook plans to implement the new project within three to five years, so that areas on the globe which don’t benefit from internet connections can use the connection Facebook will provide, for free. There has been a lot of talk about net neutrality and free internet lately, many emphasizing the fact that an internet connection has become crucial for everybody in order to be able to socialize and integrate properly with their home and work environment.
Facebook has detected the need for an internet connection in places where there aren’t any ISPs or carriers providing any kind of service and will try to carry connections there. According to Facebook calculations, about %15 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to internet, and those are the ones the company will be helping out.
Facebook Connectivity Lab Engineering Director, Yael Maguire, spoke about the project at the Social Good Summit and attempted to explain how a fleet of these drones would stay at 90.000 feet altitude and beam internet towards parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia. He said that the vehicles would be the size of a commercial aircraft, but much lighter and will use solar power as their juice. As you can see, this is a pretty ambitious project that would be no small feat to achieve in the time-span set by the company.
The United States still hasn’t approved the use of low-flying drones because of current air traffic control legislation, but Maguire claims that Facebook’s drones will not encounter such issues because there aren’t regulations that would impede an unmanned drone from flying above weather at a minimum of 60.000.
Facebook drones will apparently stay in the sky for months at a time, beaming internet to the people that are in need. That would be quite an accomplishment from Facebook engineers, since the longest a solar-powered aircraft has stayed in the air was 2 weeks. Testing of the drones is set to begin sometime in 2015, so we can assume that at least one of these Facebook drones has already been manufactured.
We love the idea of Facebook supplying internet to those who don’t have any access to it, and the technology the company wants to employ to do it is among the most popular ones at the moment. Drones seem to be the future of transportation and an access tool at the same time, so we are curious how Facebook’s project will develop in time.