Unlike Google's Internet-connected balloons, Facebook will be using drones - drones that are more like planes.
Facebook's noble mission to bring internet access to developing countries is coming to a reality. The social network's engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, told Mashable that the company is serious about its intention of reaching out to the 15 percent of the overall global population who are believed to be isolated.
Unlike Google's Internet-connected balloons, Facebook will be using drones. But drones may not be the right word. According to Maguire, they are more like planes that are capable of flying for months or even years.
"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," he told Mashable. "That's between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. Routinely, planes don't fly there and certainly not drones."
To make this possible, Facebook is planning to harness the power of the sun to power its planes. But Maguire admits that the challenge is daunting. "We have to push the edge of battery technology, of solar technology, of composite technology. There is a whole bunch of challenges that our team is super excited to work on," he added.
As for the actual size of the drones, err planes, Maguire said that they will roughly the size of a commercial aircraft. However, an important factor will be its weight, which is reportedly as light as four tires. The length, Maguire explained, is about six or seven Toyota Priuses aligned together. Facebook is expecting to test its planes next year.