Facebook drones to beam internet from the sky
Facebook is to harness drones, satellites and other technologies as part of an ambitious effort to beam internet connectivity to people in underdeveloped parts of the world.
The company has hired aerospace and communications experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and its Ames Research Center, as well as British scientists for its “Connectivity Lab” project.
“Today, we’re sharing some details of the work Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post.
He gave few specifics and did not specify a time frame.
The move extends the social networking company’s Internet.org effort, aimed at connecting billions of people who don’t currently have internet access in places such as Africa and Asia. Facebook has been working with telecommunications carriers to make internet access more available and affordable.
Cnnecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too
“We’re going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook envisions a fleet of solar-powered drones as well as low-earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites delivering internet access to different regions of the world. Laser beams could allow Facebook to boost the speed of the internet connections provided by the various aircraft.
Eye in the sky
Facebook’s plans to take to the skies underscore the company’s rising ambitions to exert its influence beyond the confines of its 1.2 billion-member social network and to set the pace for new technology that will shape society.
Facebook is following in the steps of Google, which last year announced plans to use solar-powered balloons to deliver internet access to remote regions of the world.
Among the job openings posted on Facebook’s website in relation to the announcement were roles such as Antenna Systems Engineer and Electro-Optical Network Access Hardware Engineer.
Facebook also said it had hired a five-member team that worked at Ascenta, a British company whose founders created early versions of the Zephyr, which Facebook said held the record for the longest-flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft.