Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg today announced that their solar-powered drone aircrafts have begun their testing phase of production, kicking off test flights over the UK after completing the first flight recently.
This is all part of Facebook’s involvement with the Internet.org initiative, working to expand internet connectivity around the world. To do this Facebook plans to launch these solar powered drones into the sky for months at a time, and them get them to work much like satellites and deliver internet connectivity to those below the drone.
Internet.org aims to bring internet connectivity to everyone around the world, kicking off with less economically developed countries, and then shortly after the rest of the world.
The drones they are using to do this are wider than a Boeing 737 in wingspan, but are still light than a car whilst being capable of flying at over 60,000 feet and stay there for months at a time, charging up along the way with thanks to their solar panels.
This was all developed by the Somerset-based company Ascenta, which was acquired by Facebook back in 2014, but they are only one of the companies with the aim of completing this goal, with Google acquiring Titan Aerospace, who develop drones that can stay in the air for as long as five years at a time and Elon Musk aiming to develop hundreds of tiny satellites into space to provide a blanket of internet connectivity.
It will be interesting to see which one works best when they are ready.