Forget airlines, the skies of the future could well belong to tech giants. Last year, Google announced Project Loon — its bid to provide internet to the world using high altitude balloons. And now Facebook has revealed similar intentions with the potential purchase of Titan Aerospace, a company that specialises in solar-powered drones.
According to TechCrunch, the social networking giant is in talks with Titan and could buy it for as much as US$60-million.
Titan Aersopace’s solar-powered drones are apparently capable of staying in the air for five years without needing refuelling.
As the video explains, Titan’s drones essentially operate as high atmosphere satellites. That in turn suggests Facebook’s interest in them has a lot do with the role it’s playing in the Internet.org initiative.
Indeed, TechCrunch’s sources suggest that Facebook intends using the drones for exactly that purpose, starting with Africa. The amount of time the drones can spend in the air means that they’re ideal for communications purposes.
Like Google, Facebook is playing the long game when it comes to getting developing markets online. By bringing people in those countries internet, it increases the likelihood of people being keen to use its services. That will become especially important as people within those countries increasingly start using smartphones and other devices.