New York Company Tests Solar-Powered Plane in Quest to Bring Internet to the World

Photo credit: AP Images
Photo credit: AP Images

Those black wings aren’t just for show. This manned, prototype aircraft utilized solar panels to keep itself afloat for around 20 minutes on Friday.

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In its quest to bring Internet access to third-world countries, Long Island-based Luminati Aerospace LLC said it successfully tested a new solar-powered, VO-Substrata aircraft on Eastern Long Island, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s the only aircraft I’ve ever flown where I can hear a helicopter next to me,” pilot Robert Lutz reported. “It’s a little spooky but pretty cool.”

According to Luminati (yes, like that Illuminati) founder Daniel Preston, the goal is to develop unmanned drones that, thanks to solar power and wind energy, could remain afloat indefinitely.

“I really can’t think of any engineering project today that has a greater social impact than bringing communications for many people in the world that don’t have it,” he said.

Preston also added that the company is also looking to supply drones to private businesses, along with intelligence agencies for surveillance and reconnaissance uses.

However, it’s not clear who commissioned the project. Preston has denied which big technology company has stakes in the project. Facebook and Google are two likely candidates, especially since both have expressed interest in creating unmanned drones to increase Internet access. Google was testing solar-powered drones as recently as January and Facebook has fiddled with the idea since 2014.

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[Associated Press]

Weekend editor and night person at Gizmodo. More space core than human.

DISCUSSION

Global communications - Yes.

Surveillance - Kill it with fire.

Unless the internet is open and free... then you’re doing it wrong. And monitoring communications has rarely produced a security coup when it comes to the type of threats we have to deal with... and none in the modern era. However, such monitoring has produced extreme levels of abuse and asshollery by the very organizations charged to use this information wisely and to the benefit of our security.

Thus, I would say no to having anything like this above my airspace. The threat of abuse far outweighs the benefit of its presence.

Oh, Facebook can go fuck itself too. If its the sponsor its only doing so to capture more uniquely identifying information that it can then sell. Fuck that noise.