FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg has outlined plans to bring the internet to remote communities using drones.
Under the auspices of his non-profit internet.org organisation, Zuckerberg revealed that he has partnered with the NASA Ames Research Centre and UK drone company Ascenta to pioneer solar powered unmanned aircraft to beam WiFi from the skies.
The idea has parallels with internet search giant Google’s plans to deliver internet access via balloons under the dubious title “Project Loon”.
It has already been a busy week for the Facebook tycoon after parting with $2bn for virtual reality headset company Oculus VR. The move has received a backlash from people questioning his motives and it would seem that he has opted to end the week leaving a more positive taste in people’s mouths.
One consideration for the rollout of the drone WiFi scheme will be cost, and University of Sheffield engineers might have found the answer in 3D printed aircraft.
The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield has built a 1.5m wide prototype of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), weighing under 2kg and constructed from thermoplastics.
At present the drone has only been used as a glider, however with the combination of additional 3D printed parts and cheap electronic components, the UAV could be a cheap, disposible form of transport ideal for dropping into war zones, nuclear hotzones and other hard to reach or hostile environments.
Alternatively it could make for an ideal way of rolling out internet.org’s lofty ambitions for its drone WiFi network.