Today is a pretty big day for Mark Zuckerberg and the folks at Facebook. At daybreak this morning in Yuma, Arizona, Facebook launched the Aquila, an unmanned, solar-powered aircraft with a wingspan bigger than a Boeing 737, intended to bring internet access to under-served areas.
This was just a test run, and the internet delivery system is still in development, but apparently the flight – which was only supposed to go for about half an hour – went so well, the team let the aircraft fly for over an hour and a half.
Ultimately, Facebook intends to send drones like the Aquila soaring up to elevations exceeding 60,000 feet to beam internet access via lasers and millimeter wave technology down to remote areas which don’t have the infrastructure to build out internet pathways.
Facebook isn’t alone in this quest: Google is doing something similar with balloons called Project Loon. And that makes us wonder: How will the two tech titans avoid mid-air collisions? We’ll let them sort that out, but for now it’s really interesting to see these connectivity projects taking shape.
The end of an era
While Facebook is celebrating new beginnings, a company in Japan is bringing an iconic home entertainment device to its official end. You’re not going to believe this, but Funai electric is still making VCRs. Or at least they were. Today, the company, which produces electronics for a number of brands, officially ended production of its VCRs, which it was making for Sanyo. I know, I’m a huge A/V guy and I didn’t even know they were still making new ones.
Anyway, if you’ve still got a closet full of VHS tapes you want to get all nostalgic with and need a VCR? We’d hurry up and snatch one now before entrepreneurial types on Ebay get wise and start selling them for obscene amounts of money.
Tesla releases Master Plan Part Deux
Finally today, Tesla has officially announced the Master Plan that company CEO Elon Musk has been teasing for weeks, and it looks like the company is going to be venturing well outside of its electric cars and energy storage systems.
We now know Tesla intends to build an electric pickup truck – which can I just say parenthetically: YES, please take my money – an electric semi-truck and a big ole’ electric bus. Beyond the electric vehicles, though, Musk is focused on a broader vision of sustainability through alternate energy sources, and he’s tying a lot of it to the planned acquisition of SolarCity, which as many critics have pointed out, is a little dodgy since Musk sits on the board of that company as well.
Some are saying Musk has a lot of big ideas and not much planning to back it up. Some also suggest Musk needs to make his own company sustainable first. But if we know Mr. Musk, he’ll have no problem rallying the necessary troops to move forward. And we think Tesla’s stock is going to do just fine, thanks very much.