Luminati Aerospace, LLC has announced that it has purchased a former skydiving operation in Riverside, NY to produce solar powered drones. Daniel Preston, CEO, states that the company will hire 40 high-tech employees immediately, as they enter what he estimates to be a two year research and development phase.
The company plans to develop solar powered, high altitude drones that will fly above 60,000 feet, placing them above commercial flights in unrestricted airspace. While the company refuses to disclose the name of its client, industry insiders speculate that either Google or Facebook has hired the firm to develop drones capable of delivering Internet services to hard to reach areas.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced the Internet.org project last year, releasing pictures of the planned drones and announcing plans to develop new technologies. “To connect everyone in the world, we also need to invent new technologies that can solve some of the physical barriers to connectivity. That’s why Facebook in investing in building technologies to deliver new types of connectivity on the ground, in the air and in space,” states Zuckerberg in the Internet.org announcement.
Daniel Preston, CEO of Laminate Aerospace, is something of a mythical figure in the entrepreneurial world. He entered college at the age of 12, dropping out to start his first company, which he then sold for a 7-figure sum. Since then, he has developed numerous companies in the US and abroad. His interests have varied from expanding his family’s 100-year old cacao business based in the Dominican Republic, developing cacao-based liqueurs, chocolates, and health and beauty products; to developing new parachute technology, eventually selling over $20 million of these products per year to the US military.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.