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Facebook Wi-Fi Drone the Size of 747 Could Fly in 2015

The Facebook drones are on their way, and we're not talking about bored friends who send out Candy Crush Saga invites. The company shared a few more details about its plan to use drones to provide free Wi-Fi to the two-thirds of the world's population that lack Internet access. First, don't call them "drones," Yael Maguire, engineering director of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, said Monday at the Social Good Summit in New York City. Instead he refers to them as "planes," seeing as they will be "roughly the size" of airplanes "like a 747," although much, much lighter.

They also will have to be powered by the sun to continuously provide Wi-Fi coverage. It would not be the first solar-powered plane; the makers of the Solar Impulse 2 told the AP in April that their vehicle could theoretically fly indefinitely. That plane, however, had a pilot. Facebook hopes to get around regulatory and technical barriers to let one person be in control of up to 100 of its drones. Maguire said that Facebook hoped to test one of its planes in the United States by 2015 and have them sending out Wi-Fi signals in the next three to five years.

Drone Buzzes Around Seattle’s Space Needle 1:56

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— Keith Wagstaff