Researchers working with Facebook are investigating how unmanned planes might help deliver more widespread internet connectivity and open up new markets around the world.
Without using the word 'drone' to describe the plans in development, Facebook Connectivity Lab's engineering director Yael Maguire said commercial-size aircraft could soon be used to open up internet access to millions.
The planes might eventually be able to stay up in the air for months or even years at a time, Maguire told an audience at the 2014 Social Good Summit this week.
"In order for us to fly these planes we actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace. That's between 60,000 and 90,000 feet," he said.
According to Facebook, delivering internet access to the two-thirds of the world's population who don't currently have it could create as many as 140 million jobs and lift around 160 million people out of poverty.