Now Google's Getting Drones

Firm purchases Titan Aerospace in push to spread Internet access

By Matt Cantor,  Newser User

Posted Apr 15, 2014 10:29 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Amazon's not the only big tech firm with drones in its future. Google has agreed to purchase Titan Aerospace, a New Mexico-based drone maker, NBC News reports. With two-thirds of the world's population still lacking Internet access, "Atmospheric satellites could help bring Internet access to millions of people," Google tells NBC. Titan's solar-powered drones soar at about 65,000 feet—far above planes—and they can stay up in the air for years without a break, Titan says. They reportedly offer the signaling power of about 100 cell phone towers, but the Wall Street Journal notes that the system is "largely unproven."

In addition to boosting Internet access, the drones could help collect images for Google maps; they could even assist with "disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation," the firm says. The purchase comes after Facebook last month bought a British aerospace company, Ascenta; the social network had previously considered snapping up Titan. But Google had apparently offered to beat any offer from Facebook, the Journal reports. The purchase price hasn't been revealed. Both Facebook and Google have similar motives, writes Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch: "When you saturate your market and you’re among the world’s most wealthy companies, you don’t go into maintenance mode; you build new ones."

A screen shot from YouTube video of a Titan drone.
A screen shot from YouTube video of a Titan drone.   (YouTube)
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