Mark Zuckerberg announced the drone program in a Facebook post, where he also touted Internet.org's progress toward worldwide connectivity over the past year, including adding 3 million new users to the internet in Paraguay and the Philippines.
Zuck writes that to take this mission further, Internet.org is going to need new technology. That's where Facebook's new Connectivity Lab, which includes engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center, comes in.
Today, Facebook also acquired the team from U.K. startup Ascenta, some of whom worked on the longest-flying solar unmanned drone. The Zephyr stayed airborne for 2 weeks back in 2010, and still holds the world record.
This isn't the first hint of Facebook's internet drone ambitions: Earlier this month, the company was reportedly looking to buy Titan Aerospace for $60 million. Titan's Solara aircraft can theoretically stay aloft for 5 years between recharges. Importantly, they're not "drones," either—they're low-atmospheric satellites, which puts them at a high enough altitude to eschew FAA regulation and launch from the U.S.
[Photo Credit: Facebook]