Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), at the 2014 Social Good Summit on Monday, revealed more information about the planned beaming of internet to the developing world. The project was first revealed in March this year. Together with Internet.org, Facebook Inc is working towards supplying the remaining 15% of the world with internet connectivity.
The engineering director at Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, said in an interview with Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore that the unmanned internet planes, as he prefers to call them instead of drones, should be able to fly for months or years in order to maintain internet supply to the targeted areas.
“In order for us to fly these planes — unmanned planes that have to fly for months, or perhaps years at a time — we actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace,” Maguire said. “That’s between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. Routinely, planes don’t fly there, and certainly not drones.”
Because of the high altitudes and the fact that it will be almost impossible to supply the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) with fuel for such a long period of time, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Internet.org have thought of powering the planes using solar power.
Maguire further revealed that for efficacy, the planes must be big; the size of a commercial aircraft like the 747, yet they have to be lighter. He further revealed that they are currently working on a model which is about six or seven Priuses in length whose weight is that of four of the tires of a Prius.
Some of the hurdles that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will have to face are regulatory standards, such as the number of internet aircrafts a single person is to oversee. According to Maguire, they are planning to have one person man 100 of those planes.
“We can’t have one person per plane if we want to figure out how to connect the world,”
The two partners have given themselves three to five years to conclusively explore the possibilities. The first internet carrying plane is expected to be tested next year.
This article has been written by Victor Ochieng.