Facebook To Buy Solar-Powered Drones; May Go Heads-on With Google Into Global Internet Reach?

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By Jenille Cristy Maido | March 6, 2014 1:09 AM EST

Facebook's $19 billion Whatsapp megadeal has recently dropped jaws in technology and financial headlines. But the social media giant is far from being done.

Surfacing reports said the company led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg is talking to acquire Titan Aerospace, maker of solar-power drone aircraft that can stay on the skies for 5 years without landing to refuel.

According to Techruch report, Facebook considers purchasing Titan's technology to use the drones in bringing Internet in the remote regions of the world.

This endeavour would fit Zuckerberg's goals in the internet.org project and more likely to happen.

Internet.org is a global partnership led by Facebook, with technology leaders like Samsung, Qualcomm and Nokia at their helm with a goal to connect with more than 5 million of the world's 7 million population who are not online.

The price tag of the technology is reportedly $60 million. Experts presumed if the acquisition were true, this may be Facebook's trump card to contend heads-on with Google's "Project Loon."

Google is currently on the testing stage of their project using high-altitude balloons floating in the stratosphere. Its primary objective is to establish a ring of uninterrupted connectivity worldwide similar to what Facebook may be aiming for if they use the solar-powered drones.

Facebook would start building 11,000 of the unmanned aerial vehicles to be scattered in different parts of the globe starting in Africa, specifically the model "Solara 60," the report said.

Unlike conventional aircraft, Solara 50 and Solara 60 do not have to land from time to time to refuel. This is credited to the blanket of solar cells that power the aircraft.

Launching is during the night, wherein the Solara will use charged battery packs until they can store energy from the sunlight during the morning. Unlike Google's balloons, the drones can be immediately repositioned whenever necessary.

Titans' Solara has better endurance compared to other high-altitude UAVs, but relatively costs less, according to a report by BusinessWire.

Titan plans on leveraging the technology to unlock applications where it will be most useful. Other uses of the UAVs would be for accessing real-time earth-imaging, data and voice services, mapping and navigation.

For such a useful technology is Facebook paying Titan a lot lesser than the billions of dollars offer it gave WhatsApp? What do you think?

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