Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is reportedly in talks to acquire Titan Aerospace, according to sources with TechCrunch. The acquisition would be tied in with Facebook’s goal to connect the 5 billion people in the world that do not have access to the Internet. Facebook oversees the Internet.org initiative, which was the driving force behind the social network’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp.
What is Titan Aerospace? Titan makes near-orbital and solar-powered drones that can fly for five years without having to land. The acquisition price is rumored to be worth $60 million. Facebook would use the drones to cover parts of the world that do not have Internet access starting with Africa. Facebook would start by building 11,000 of the Solara 60 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Solara 60 models are “atmospheric satellites” that can conduct the operations of an orbital salute but are cheaper and versatile. The drones may be used for communications, disaster recovery, and weather monitoring.
Titan’s Solara 50 and 60 models can launch at night using internal battery packs. After the sun rises, the drones can store enough energy to levitate 20 km. above sea level where they can stay for five years without needing to refuel.