Facebook Drones

5 03 2014

I gave a lecture last week to our first-year International Business students on technological innovation. I spoke about national innovation systems around the world and noted that a fairly high percentage of R&D spending in the US is funnelled through the military-industrial complex (see below). I also pointed out that many military technologies end up having lots of civilian applications.


Here is a great example of this phenomenon:  Facebook may be looking to buy a drone manufacturer so that it can use permanently airborne drones to bring internet access to consumers in developing countries. Titan Aerospace is developing solar powered drones that can stay aloft for five years at a time.

Facebook may be preparing its next major purchase. According to TechCrunch andCNBC, Facebook will buy drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for $60 million and plans to use its vehicles to help spread internet access worldwide. A drone manufacturer would obviously be a strange acquisition for Facebook, which has largely focused on buying consumer technology companies and apps — most notably, WhatsApp and Instagram. But both outlets report that the purchase will serve Internet.org, an initiative launched by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year that holds the goal of bringing the entire world online.

This is totally awesome.