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March 4, 2014

Facebook in Talks to Buy Drone Maker

Social Network Would Use Drone Technology to Take the Internet to Remote Regions

Titan Aerospace image — The Solara 50 drone.

Facebook has its sights set on an American drone manufacturer to further its goal of bringing the Internet to the two-thirds of the world that is not yet connected.

According to a TechCrunch report, the king of social networking is in negotiations to acquire Titan Aerospace for $60 million in the hopes of using its drones to beam Internet access to isolated regions, beginning with Africa.

If the deal goes through, Titan Aerospace drones would be used to further the agenda of internet.org, a new global initiative headed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to make Internet access available to five billion new households by 2023.

A source “with access to information about the deal” told TechCrunch Facebook wants the company to build 11,000 drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It is thought the focus will be placed on the Solara 60 model, a featherweight aircraft manufactured using thousands of solar cells that enable it to fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet for years without refueling.

The drone can carry as much as 250 pounds. If Facebook has its way, the craft will be carrying wireless communications equipment that would bring Internet basics such as e-mail, weather forecasts, Wikipedia and, naturally, Facebook, to all, whether they are able to pay for an Internet connection or not.

To see the drones in action, check out the video below:

Founded in 2012, Titan Aerospace “is backed by leading entrepreneurs and comprised of Internet and aerospace professionals,” the website reads.

“By designing, building and operating a coordinated imaging solar atmospheric satellite constellation, Titan is empowering commercial and government customers to make more informed, data-driven decisions that will improve the profitability of companies and the welfare of societies around the world.”

It is headquartered in New Mexico with offices in New York and Washington, D.C.

Facebook’s Internet.org initiative is in direct competition with Google’s Project Loon in which hot air balloons would be used to bring the Internet to remote regions. Facebook’s bid to use Titan’s drones may be a its best chance to beat Google to the connectivity punch.


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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