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Facebook drone takes flight in the UK

Margi Murphy | March 30, 2015
Facebook's first internet beaming drone has taken flight in the UK, to great success, the social network says.

Facebook has successfully launched a drone above the UK, in a bid to to beam internet access down from the sky.

The social network is designing a fleet to connect remote areas in the world as part of its internet.org project.

The final drone design will have a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737, but weigh less than a car, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised.

Powered by solar panels on the wings , it will fly at altitudes of over 60,000 feet for months at a time, he added.

The announcement was made at the annual Facebook developer conference, F8, in San Francisco, where the social network revealed a new line of SDKs through Parse, developments in artificial intelligence as well as the open sourcing of several tools for developers.

"Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world because they can affordably serve the 10% of the world's population that live in remote communities without existing internet infrastructure."

It is likely that the trials have taken place in the UK due to the relaxed aviation laws in comparison to those in the US.

Amazon, for example, only received clearance to test drones in the US this week, after an eight month wait to hear back from the aviation authority. It ruled that the retail website could only operate drones in broad daylight and by a licensed pilot. Further, the drone had to be in the line of sight of two separate people throughout its journey from the factory to the door.

The firm hopes to offer a drone delivery service called Prime Air that will drop parcels weighing less than 5lbs, within half an hour of an order, to a customer's door.

 

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