Facebook is planning to test its 747-sized internet drones this summer

27 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At Facebook, a sharpening focus on virtual reality.

Facebook’s ambitious plan to bring internet to the entire world with a fleet of broadband-beaming unmanned aerial vehicles has taken a step closer to fruition. The company’s vice president of engineering, Jay Parikh, told The Wall Street Journal that Facebook is planning “a real test flight” of its solar-powered internet drone this summer. Facebook sees it as a radical and important technology that in the not-too-distant future could provide new ways to help people connect and transport them to places that are out of reach or don’t even exist. Providing those experiences is among Facebook’s ambitious long-term goals, along with providing Internet access through aerial drones and deepening its artificial intelligence technology to better understand what people want. Facebook says the vehicle will have the wingspan of a commercial passenger jet and the length of “six or seven [Toyota] Priuses,” but will only weigh as much as four car tires.

Take the birthday scenario: Using a future headset from Facebook’s Oculus VR division, it might be possible for a person to watch a three-dimensional video of the event, move around the room, and with specialized sensors, touch his friend. When my colleague Jessi Hempel entered the same virtual world yesterday morning, she stepped off the skyscraper, knowing that she was really standing in a tiny room at the back of an old maritime warehouse. On Thursday, Facebook and Oculus executives laid out their vision for the future of virtual reality and gave some clues about possible applications of the technology at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco. “Moments of bringing people together is what we’re trying to do at Facebook. Facebook executives have warned that the project is unlikely to be finalized any time soon, specifying that the firm needed to ensure the safety of the drones while also locking down relationships with carriers. It’s the core of our mission,” whether those are real or virtual, said Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer at the company, during a keynote talk at the conference.

Other companies, too, have suffered from the slow pace of drone regulation from aviation bodies such as the FAA — Amazon complained earlier this week that the delivery drone the federal body approved after several months is already obsolete. At the event, attendees could strap on the Samsung Gear VR, made in partnership with Oculus, and see a real-time, 360-degree view of Facebook’s campus in nearby Menlo Park.

Virtual Boy, the gaming console released by Nintendo in the mid-nineties, sought to provide a more immersive experience than other consoles of the time, transporting users into the game with a screen that covered the gamer’s entire field of vision. This is the gap Mark Zuckerberg must bridge in combining Facebook with virtual reality, now that his company owns the startup that built the Oculus headset.

In time, virtual reality could expand the experience of the Facebook timeline, with new ways for people to interact with each other, said Michael Abrash, chief scientist at Oculus, during a talk on Thursday at F8. The implication is that we’ll eventually spend our days watching not just good old-fashioned internet videos, but completely “immersive” videos streamed through something like the Oculus.

Trying out Crescent Bay at F8, I found myself reaching out with my hands, wanting to grab things like a dragon’s tail or some other unreal creature. But he hesitates when asked how much time he’s likely to spend with something like this on his head. “I don’t know,” he says. “It’s a good question.” Another attendee, Hulker Heschberger, points out that 3-D movies—the theater variety—have never really succeeded because of the headwear problem. “It’s artificial,” he says.

Competitors include Sony, with Project Morpheus, Microsoft, with HoloLens; and perhaps even Google, which is said to be developing a virtual reality version of Android. But Facebook is well-positioned to produce something that gains mainstream acceptance, partly because of its acquisition of Oculus and its ties to the larger developer community, said Brian Blau, an industry analyst at Gartner who has been tracking virtual reality for more than 20 years. Down the road, we’ll have a completely immersive way of communicating with people across the globe, but maybe something simpler is the better option—or at least the typical option. “Zuckerberg has said that VR is the most social thing,” Blau explains. “But in fact, it’s not.” Today, Facebook is about so easily sharing what you have with others.

It will shrink down to something tiny, something that will fit on a pair of ordinary glasses that don’t completely separate us from this world, something like, well, Google Glass.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Facebook is planning to test its 747-sized internet drones this summer".

* Required fields
Twitter-news
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

dima911@gmail.com

ICQ: 423360519

About this site