Facebook Buys British Drone Specialist

Small team developing solar-powered drones joins the Facebook team that's aiming to connect the world.

March 31, 2014

2 Min Read
Facebook Buys British Drone Specialist

In his latest effort to connect the world to the Internet, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has acquired a small British company that is developing solar-powered drones.

Facebook has bought Ascenta, a five-person outfit in the UK that, according to a blog posted by Zuckerberg, "created early versions of Zephyr, which became the world's longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft."

The Ascenta team is joining the Connectivity Lab, set up by Facebook to "build drones, satellites and lasers [free space optics] to deliver the internet to everyone." Those efforts will be fed into the work of Internet.Org, the partnership announced in August 2013 that aims to make the Internet accessible to the "two thirds of the world not yet connected." (See Internet.Org: Small Data Bites Into the Digital Divide?)

According to a Bloomberg report, Ascenta was acquired for less than $20 million.

Zuckerberg appears to be very interested in any technology that will help connect the world, and he has been linked to other drone companies. (See Flyin' Facebook: Now Zuckerberg Eyes Drones?)

Here's a video where Facebook's Yael Maguire lays out some of the concepts that the Connectivity Lab team is working on:

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), meanwhile, is exploring the potential of balloons as a way to provide Internet access in hard-to-reach areas. (See Broadband: It's All Hot Air for Google.)

Facebook isn't the only company interested in unmanned craft, of course, though Amazon wants to use the aircraft for different reasons. (See Amazon Wants Delivery Drones.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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