Facebook Reveals Details On Its Internet-Connected Drones
We’ve known about Facebook’s plans to bring the Internet to developing areas with drones for a while now, but at the Social Good Summit this week, Facebook Connectivity Lab’s Yael Maguire revealed some fresh details about what the company is trying to accomplish.
Speaking with Mashable’s Pete Cashmore, Maguire said that the UAVs would need to be able to fly for months, or even years, at an altitude “above the weather, above all airspace.” That’s around 60,000 to 90,000 feet.
Facebook has already looked into solar-powered options that can make trips up to five years. Maguire went on to say that a typical-sized drone won’t suffice, so they’ll have to be “roughly the size of a commercial aircraft, like a 747.”
The effort will surely face regulatory hurdles, including how many of the vehicles a single pilot can oversee. The goal, eventually, is to have one person controlling “up to 100” of the Internet-carrying drones at a time. “We can’t have one person per plane if we want to figure out how to connect the world,” Maguire said.
For now, we’re looking at a three to five year window for launching the UAVs. The lab hopes to get the first one in the air for testing next year.