In March Facebook was in talks to acquire Titan Aerospace, the manufacturer of solar-powered drone which able to stay aloft at high altitudes for five years. Now, the company has been bought, ironically not by Facebook, but by Google.
Technology companies are expanding, and are about to take to the skies – literally – thanks to solar-powered drones that will provide broadband access around the world to bring the Internet in developing countries and where still missing.
Between the two titans, the war was started for a while, to be precise since both companies were thrown in the search for efficient systems to bring broadband network in the most remote corners of the planet. The winning solution might just be the one to hand that Google has decided to entrust the fight against the digital divide aircraft, unmanned Titan Aerospace.
Facebook has recently purchased Ascenta, a startup based in the UK, which builds solar-powered vehicles unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – or simply called drones – for $20 million. Through the use of drones, combined with the use of satellites, Facebook said it would offer broadband to those areas of the Earth where the land connections leave much to be desired.
Google has placed immediately on the heels of Facebook thus confirming the acquisition of Titan Aerospace, a company that produces such Ascenta drones designed to remain in flight at high altitude (about 20 km altitude), for long periods of time (up to three years).
The confirmation comes directly from the company, which in post on its blog writes that “We are excited to announce that Titan Aerospace joins Google.”
Titan Aerospace, based in New Mexico and led by former Symantec CEO Vern Raburn, will work closely with Google and precisely with the Loon Project, in which Google wants to provide Internet access in areas where does not yet exist using balloons.
Titan Aerospace, similar to the competitor Ascenta now owned by Facebook, is developing two drones – the smaller of the two with a wingspan of a little ‘bigger than a Boeing 767 – equipped with solar panels that power the batteries wing to keep them in flight. The aircraft, capable of flying up to 12 miles in the sky, and have a life cycle in the long term of approximately five years.
The primary function of the drones will be to bring Internet access to places where a broadband connection are not available yet, with speeds up to 1Gbps, equivalent then to the speed of fiber present in many developed countries.
Drones of Titan Aerospace will also be able to help Google for mapping of places for Google Maps. To do this, the drones will be able to take high-resolution photos of the Earth.
“It’s still too early for the technology that we are developing, especially for atmospheric satellites. There are a lot of ways in which we think that we could help people, whether it be to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills and deforestation,” said Titan on its website.
Written by Simone Ziggiotto