Facebook to buy drone company for $60 million

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
The social media giant wants to use the drones to help provide Internet access around the world.

Facebook

(NBC News) - The next step on Facebook's path to Internet-connecting the entire globe is a high-tech one: buying up drones.

Facebook is slated to buy New Mexico-based drone maker Titan Aerospace for about $60 million, a source confirmed to CNBC on Tuesday. The blog TechCrunch first reported the news of a possible Facebook-Titan deal.

Facebook is supposedly interested in Titan because its solar-powered drones — which can reportedly stay airborne for five years — can help Facebook achieve its goal of providing Internet access around the world.

Last year Facebook announced it would lead an initiative called Internet.org, which aims to bring Internet connectivity to the two-thirds of the world's population that currently lacks access. Facebook could potentially launch Titan's drones in those unconnected regions.

A $60 million price tag would likely be welcome to the privately held Titan, but it's a small fraction of the $16 billion that Facebook shelled out for messaging app WhatsApp last month.

Drones have recently emerged as a burgeoning area of technology, with even major U.S. companies like FedEx and Amazon hoping to employ the unmanned devices. (The commercial use of drones is not currently permitted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, but the group is slated to unveil new guidelines by the end of 2015.)

Facebook also wouldn't be the first to use floating devices for global Internet connectivity. Last summer Google launched Project Loon, a pilot program testing Internet access via solar-powered helium balloons.


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