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Facebook aims to launch unmanned drone by year-end

Zach Miners | July 31, 2015
At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but carries no passengers -- and it's much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight.

Google, meanwhile, has developed balloons to beam down LTE cellular signals. They're meant to fly in Facebook's desired zone, between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. The company so far has launched at least hundreds of test balloons, and it's close to launching thousands.

During the talk, Facebook engineers said they still need to sort out the regulatory issues involved in flying Aquila.

For Facebook, Google's existing presence in the stratosphere looms large. To launch, Aquila will require a helium balloon, which will get it above commercial airspace quicker, Facebook engineers said.

They didn't say whether Aquila would rise above Google's balloons.

 

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