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Facebook plans to start testing its WiFi drones next year

The drone aircraft are expected to fly at an altitude of at least 60,000 feet, without a human operator

Image: Internet.org/YouTube

FACEBOOK’S OWN PLANS to bring internet access to everyone could take its first step next year as it begins testing its drone aircraft next year.

Speaking at the Social Good Summit in New York, the engineering director of Facebook’s new Connectivity Lab Yael Maguire, said that there were a “whole bunch of challenges” to overcome such as regulations which require one human operator to every drone, according to Wired.

The company has identified 21 locations in Latin America, Asia and Africa where it would like to test its internet beaming capabilities, but this is likely to happen two to five years down the line.

Instead of running the projects itself, Facebook is looking to work with groups in those areas, such as governments communities or local businesses who will deploy the technology the Connectivity Lab has created.

Internet heatmap A map of all the internet coverage in the world, according to Internet.org Source: Internet.org

For these drones to fly for months or years at a time, they will have to fly “above weather, above all airspace” according to Maguire. This could range from anywhere between 60,000 to 90,000 feet in the air and currently, there are no regulations surrounding aircraft that fly above 60,000 feet.

All the rules exist for satellites, and we’re invested in those. They play a very useful role, but we also have to help pave new ground.

The drone aircraft project is part of Internet.org, Facebook’s plan to bring internet access to the most remote parts of the world. Back in March, it launched its Connectivity Lab and purchased the drone aircraft company Ascenta.

Source: Internet.org/YouTube

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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