Innovation

Why Mark Zuckerberg Gave The Pope A Drone

Planning a trip to Rome and Vatican City? You may pop into the Sistine Chapel, revel in Michelangelo’s techniques and talent, meander through St. Peter’s Square and into the Basilica, through the gardens, and just take in the history. Certainly all “bucket list” type travels.

Perhaps the Chan-Zuckerberg couple checked those things off their sightseeing list, but they also got a meeting few are able to enjoy: one with Pope Francis.

Religion aside, whether you were raised Jewish and now an atheist like Zuckerberg, or a Buddhist like Chan… Surely, when you meet the Pope, one should bring a gift, right?

But, what does a man who can give anything get the man who may well be considered one of the holiest, and says that he wants nothing?

Apparently, a drone.

Yes, a drone. That’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan gave Pop Francis during their trip to Italy this week.

Certainly people who have connected millions of people — something they apparently talked about — should connect over something that represents the future of connectivity. Enter said drone: the premise was a discussion on the importance of bringing people together regardless of having internet access.

To be precise, it wasn’t as if the Zuck flew one in and landed it in St. Peter’s Square. The gift, was a model Aquila drone, which is Facebook’s new solar-powered aircraft that will provide internet access to parts of the planet still lacking internet connectivity. With the ability to fly 60,000 to 90,000 feet high courtesy of a 113 foot wingspan — which strikingly beats out a Boeing 737 — all while consuming power equivalent of three hairdryers, the Aquila remains in test mode, the first of which was completed at the end of June. Soon, the drone will fly for 90 days per segment, and provide a 60-mile area with access to the internet.

Currently about four billion people on our green planet still exist without internet access. And, 1.6 billion are limited simply because it would be difficult for cables and wires to be laid in these developing parts of the world.

Besides drones, what else did these three talk about?

Zuckerberg posted on his on Facebook page that he admired the Pope for his way of relaying mercy, tenderness, communication and building global connections. Statements from the Vatican press office indicated that there were also conversations about ways to further spread the Pope’s message.

Including, we bet, via Facebook and drones.

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