Facebook's Potential UAV Armada

  • Mar 5, 2014 5:08pm GMT

Technology blog, Techcrunch and financial news outlet, CNBC both confirm negotiations are underway for the possible purchase of Titan Aerospace in an effort to provide much of Africa with internet connectivity. The hopes are to send aloft 11,000 Solara 60 UAV aircraft over areas that lack internet connectivity.

If Facebook does buy the New Mexico based Titan Aerospace, the purchase could fit with the goals of Internet.org, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s project. The Facebook-led partnership, which includes Qualcomm, Samsung and Nokia, was launched last summer with the goal of connecting the more than 5 billion of the world’s 7 billion people who are not already online. Presumably, Internet.org could use Titan’s solar-powered atmospheric satellites to serve as airborne wireless-access points at a cost of about $60mil.

Flying at an altitude of 65,000 feet, the Solara 60 UAV's will have a 60 meter wingspan and can remain aloft for approximately 5 years.

There is a communications coverage builder program on the Titan website; each Solara 60 can relay signals back and forth over a circular area roughly 2,800km sq (1,000mile sq) in size, it's said. Handy for hooking up remote places to ground stations.

Titan is currently led by CEO Vern Raburn, previously founder and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. The company was founded in 2012 by Max Yaney (CTO), in order to produce what it refers to as “atmosats,” new types of UAVs that do the work of near-Earth satellites at a fraction of the cost.