Facebook is reportedly in talks to buy Titan Aerospace, a company that makes solar-powered, unmanned drone aircraft. Why would Facebook want access to drones? Read on to find out more about this developing story.
1. Facebook Wants Drones for Internet.org
ValueWalk reports that Facebook would be acquiring Titan Aerospace to gain access to drones for Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative. The drones could be used as part of Internet.org’s mission to bring Internet connectivity to the developing world.
ValueWalk adds that these types of drones can be used for “Earth imaging, disaster recovery, communication and weather monitoring. But the Menlo Park-based company is more likely to be interested in its communications capabilities.”
It seems likely that the drones would be used to either send an Internet signal, or to monitor the state of internet infrastructure on the ground in remote areas.
2. Facebook Might Pay $60 Million for Titan Aerospace
According to TechCrunch, Facebook will pay $60 million to acquire Titan Aerospace. TechCrunch adds that Facebook is likely to deploy the drones over Africa first. Considering Facebook just bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, a mere $60 million seems like chump change for this company.
3. Titan’s Drones Are Solar Powered
— Dennis Detwiller (@drgonzo123) March 4, 2014
According to the Titan Aerospace website, these drones are near-Earth-orbital, powered by a combination of batteries and solar energy, and can stay aloft for five years at a stretch.
4. Facebook Wants 11,000 Drones
The Bloomberg video above talks about what Internet.org means for the future of Facebook.
CNET reports that Facebook wants 11,000 of these satellite drones on hand for the first part of their Internet expansion plan. Since they want such a large number of drones, its easy to see why buying the whole company might make good financial sense for Facebook.
5. Facebook Has Competition From Google’s ‘Project Loon’
— Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) March 4, 2014
Facebook isn’t the only big tech company trying to bring Internet to the developing world. Google’s Project Loon aims to do much the same thing, but using balloons instead of drones.
Zuckerberg himself has been openly skeptical about Project Loon. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Zuckerberg said that the balloon initiative wasn’t the best solution to bring Internet to the masses. The Inquirer notes that Bill Gates is also skeptical of Project Loon.