Google To Acquire Drone-Maker Titan Aerospace
Google says it has agreed to acquire Titan Aerospace, a 2-year-old start-up maker of high-altitude drones.The search-engine giant did not say how much it will pay for Titan, whose solar-powered drones will help Google collect aerial images.
Google’s gain comes at the expense of Facebook, who earlier this year was in talks to buy the New Mexico-based company for a reported $60 million. Facebook ended up purchasing Ascenta, a U.K.-based aerospace company that has also been working on solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles, for $20 million.
When Facebook announced its Connectivity Lab initiative last month, it said it added “the world’s top experts on aerospace technology,” including Ascenta employees.
The 20-person Titan team will be paired with Google’s Project Loon, which is building large, high-altitude balloons that send Internet signals to areas of the planet that are currently not online, according to Google.
Titan touts several applications for its drones, including data delivery, crop monitoring and search-and-rescue aid. Its vehicles can stay aloft for up to five years without having to land or refuel, making them an intriguing possibility for beaming out Internet service, according to drone experts.
“Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world, ” Google said in a statement Monday. “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.”
The tech collaboration is expected to yield algorithms for wind prediction and flight planning, Google says.Google’s gambit comes amid a heightened interest among consumers in drones. Last year, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos whetted the public’s appetite with the intention of a drone delivery service that would drop off purchased goods at households. He gave no timetable on when it would be available.