Facebook has been tipped in an interesting business move, with sources saying it is acquiring Titan Aerospace, maker of drones. With these drones, the social network will reportedly be undertaking an effort similar to Google’s Project Loon, bringing Internet access to regions that are currently unconnected, or having very limited (usually expensive) options.
The information was acquired by TechCrunch, which reports Facebook’s acquisition is based in the interests of the Internet.org initiative’s goal of delivering Internet access to billions of individuals globally. Though nothing is confirmed at this point, the acquisition is said to be taking place for $60 million.
Titan Aerospace makes near-orbital drones that operate on solar power, able to launch at night with power from batteries, using the sun during the day to replenish lost energy. The drones can operate for five years without need for re-landing, and most importantly for the Interet.org mission, they are able to essentially function as near-Earth satellites, though at a less expensive rate.
This can make it easier to deal with local regulations, with the FAA, for example, not regulating above 60,000 feet. Amidst it all is talk of possible flavors of Facebook and WhatsApp optimized for weak Internet access delivered by drones, opening communication for those who use them. Facebook has not commented, but TechCrunch says it has confirmed that discussions are in place.