A new space race is on! Kind of. According to The Wall Street Journal, Google has just purchased Titan Aerospace, a company which produces drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles if it pleases you. The purchase may seem out of left field, but makes perfect sense if you know what Google’s up to behind the scenes. Google’s Project Loon was unveiled some months ago, an idea which would use balloons and/or drones to provide internet access in places which do not have the necessary infrastructure. Project Loon would blanket the entire globe in internet access in so-called emerging markets and remote areas. The purchase will undoubtedly help out Google’s products which rely on satellite imaging, such as Google Maps.
“Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world. It’s still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring Internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation. It’s why we’re so excited to welcome Titan Aerospace to the Google family.” – Google in an email to The Wall Street Journal
Google’s not the only Silicon Valley company that is looking into alternative ways to expand internet access, either. Just a few weeks ago, Facebook was poking and prodding at Titan Aerospace, contemplating a purchase. Facebook also has plans similar to Project Loon, as well as Zuckerberg’s ongoing Internet.org project which seeks to cover the globe in internet access.
The drones that Titan has produced so far are a mix of unmanned aerial vehicle and satellite, with the capacity to stay in orbit for up to five years and provide high-resolution images, voice and data services, atmospheric monitoring and navigation features. The drones are solar-powered, and can even descend to the surface to be repaired if necessary.
Prepare yourself, Google drones are incoming. Now it’s just a question of when.