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Internet connectivity is kind of like air: something we take for granted until we can’t get it. To help make communications easier during disaster scenarios, Facebook has come up with the “Tether-antenna.” At its simplest, it’s a small, unmanned helicopter that can hook onto undamaged fiber-and-power lines (when cellular connectivity has been damaged or is otherwise unavailable) and then hover “a few hundred feet from the ground,” according to a Facebook Developers blog post. “When completed, this technology will be able to be deployed immediately and operate for months at a time to bring back connectivity in case of an emergency — ensuring the local community can stay connected while the in ground connectivity is under repair.”
Facebook admits that the tech is still early in terms of development and that lots more work is needed before it will see use. But, like the company’s plans for blanketing the developing world with a limited form of internet connectivity, it’s a signal that Zuckerberg and Co. have serious plans for more than just shoving augmented reality into your News Feed.