back to article LOOK OUT, Brits – is that a Facebook LASER-GUN drone above us?

Facebook is still banging on about fleets of solar-powered, laser-firing drones that beam a glimpse of the internet to far-flung corners of the globe. In a post on his Facebook blog on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said one of his social network's unmanned "Aquila" craft has undertaken its first successful test flight. The …

  1. Mark 85

    "Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world because they can affordably serve the 10 per cent of the world's population that live in remote communities without existing internet infrastructure,"

    Hmmm... a fleet like that is going to cost some big money. I'm guessing his return will be the advertising dollars? Or will he be looking for government money from many countries to pay for this?

    I'm also wondering how long these things will survive in an environment that's rather hostile to FB and has the capability to knock one out of the air... like maybe the remote parts of China? or North Korea?

    1. SteveK

      Hmmm... a fleet like that is going to cost some big money. I'm guessing his return will be the advertising dollars?

      The finished ones will no doubt be pulling big advertising banners behind them!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weight of a small car

    What happens when one of these fails and crashes? Post pictures to facebook?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    He won't get permission to put one of these over my home. I get 'buzzed' by RAF Chinooks almost every day as they return to RAF Odhiam. These noisy buggers fly pretty log due to the visinity of Farnborough. Too big a danger of a colission then.

    If I didn't then I'd nearly be tempted to get a Shotgun license and.... clear the sky of these nosy pests.

    Ok, Mr Plod, I'm not going to so don't get to keep to come a calling at 04:00

    1. Timfy67

      Re: Thanjkfully...

      That's a hell of a shotgun you have there if it has a range of a little over 17 miles!

    2. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Thanjkfully...

      I don't think the average Chinook can fly at 60-90,000 feet, so very, very little risk of collision.

      Shotguns aren't much use at that height either. You're going to have to use a laser-equipped LOHAN.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Thanjkfully...

        With spelling like that, did you expect him to get any facts rights?

  4. Michael Habel

    Do starving Sub Saharan give a jot about Zucks Interwibbles

    When they're more concerned about where the next Meal is coming from? Or will he start a Pizza takeout delivery on their behalf?

    Seems to me more like huge waste of Money, then the way to actually make more. And then there's the Line-of-sight issues (Assuming it really will be some form of IR). And let us not start on the inevitable issues of Privacy 'cause this being Facef**k, I'm sure 'ol Zuck will have this fitted with as many Hi-Res Camera's as possible. If only to find a way to get these things to start paying for themselves.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Do starving Sub Saharan give a jot about Zucks Interwibbles



    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do starving Sub Saharan give a jot about Zucks Interwibbles

      Or it could help them connect to the internet, improve farming techniques, damming, irrigation, water sources, new markets, current prices, local infrastructure, repair persons, hospitals, doctors and so on.

      Oh and not everyone in rural Africa / Asia is starving. It's just the image Charities like to give to get you to hand over money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do starving Sub Saharan give a jot about Zucks Interwibbles

        AND access to micro-loans or other sources of funds direct without going through an often corrupt and/or indifferent bureaucracy.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do starving Sub Saharan give a jot about Zucks Interwibbles

        All good points but let's not overstate the magic here!

        99.9% of these improvements involve a load of things that aren't available locally, repairs need to be from someone preferably less than 900 miles away and if you are not starving in a dust-bowl then it is extremely likely you have your communications already done, probably even with real internet. A place with civilisation will already have coverage even if it's by crackly modem and satellite.

        The reason dust-bowls don't have internet is because hardly anyone lives there. The real problem is clean water and drains and you don't need the internet to lay a sodding pipe. This is a gesture, not something of value to anyone other than FB.

        It's not a reason not do to anything but how about we stop making it sound like having the internet is the magic cure for everything?

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first


    I think we all know that.

  6. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

    Dont we have satellites for that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, or rather there is no way anyone is going to charge a low enough fee for such a service. Satphone connections are seriously expensive, charged by the minute and don't even think about the data charges or the caps.

  7. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

    How are these things propelled? can you use a propeller at 90k ft?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re M0usepad

      Lots of solar cells no clouds!!! And if there's enough air to provide lift there's enough air for propellers to provide the thrust.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Sum of All Fears

    A Facebook Drone entered free fall over Paris today as a tourist snapped a picture of the drone with their Android Facebook App while on the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower. The picture, having been uploaded to the Facebook Datacenter, triggered a chain of computational events that resulted in loss of control of the aircraft.

    Too early to tell yet as specifics are hazy, but apparently the image of the drone was fed through the usual data pipeline, which first tried to detect 'People and Places'.. the drone image triggered recognition of a Facebook property which engaged the Coordinated Advertising Platform to begin beaming advertisements to the hapless tourist, using a high power laser beam from the drone.

    The advertisement, apparently for a Groupon deal in Tasmania for all-you-can-eat badger belly tacos, was inserted by a piece of Android malware in the tourist's phone through a fairly typical FREAK attack. The errant laser-ad then bounced to the control tower at Charles de Gaulle airport, temporarily blinding ATC operators, who put the entire Paris air pattern on Hold Position. The ATC command was received by the Facebook drone, but due to a non-deterministic issue in its Hip-Hop virtual machine, never propagated upwards to its PHP-based mission computer, which was engaged by this time in a recursive advertising loop with its California-based ad-server.

    After the crash, Facebook Central automatically activated its Suicide Prevention Platform for all users that were near the crash or were indirectly affected by it as determined by Social Graph.

    At the time of report Facebok officials have yet to issue an official apology, however they have hinted that the country of France may be eligible for a free app upgrade and 1 year of free credit monitoring.

  9. carrera4life
    Thumb Down

    Just because....

    Just because it's perfectly possible to push a pea up a hill with one's nose, it doesn't mean this is the most sensible approach.

    (Apologies to Christopher Strachey)

  10. Chris G

    What about remote pacific islands

    Perhaps Farcebook could fit the lasers to something suitable for an autonomous role in a marine environment.Maybe a large fish.

  11. Chozo
    Big Brother

    Zuckerbirds Are Go!

    If they improve cell-phone/4G coverage in then I for one welcome our drone overlords.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    What every regime needs

    A free test vehicle for it's anti aircraft missile industrial base to practice on.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: What every regime needs

      Too slow for serious tests, but a good starting position I'll grant you

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