Facebook’s $US2 billion acquisition of virtual headset maker Oculus VR wasn’t the most far-out thing that CEO Mark Zuckerberg bought this week.
The five members of the Ascenta team are joining Facebook’s new Connectivity Lab, which is part of Facebook’s bigger Internet.org effort to bring Internet to people who still don’t have it in remote parts of the world..
The Connectivity Lab will report to Yael Maguire, who is best known for his pioneering work in a wireless sensor technology called RFID via a company he co-founded called ThingMagic (bought by Trimble in 2010). He had been working as a scientist at MIT and Harvard prior to joining Facebook.
As part of the announcement of the new lab, Facebook has been showing pictures and videos of a solar-powered drone. It looks a lot like the Zephyr, the world’s longest-flying solar-powered drone, built by a U.K.-defence company called Qinetiq. Some of the Ascenta team worked on Zephyr, Facebook says, but a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the drone pictured is actually a new design that the Ascenta team has been working on.
Facebook wants to use such solar-powered drones to float above rural areas for “months at a time” and beam Internet connectivity down.
Here’s another shot of the drone designed by Facebook’s Ascenta team.
Here’s a video showing the drone in action and explaining Internet.org’s plans:
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