Google announced it will buy Titan Aerospace, high-altitude drones startup maker. Titan’s drones will be able to collect high-resolution Earth images in real-time, support data and voice services and carry other atmospheric sensors. Google will thereby add more aerial technology to collect images and also get more worldwide population online. Purchase price for Titan was not disclosed, but its solar-powered drones will fly for years.
Facebook has also been in talks to buy Titan earlier this year, but it later decided to buy Ascenta, a U.K. aerospace company which also works with unmanned solar-powered aerial vehicles. Facebook bought Ascenta for $20 million and hopes to increase its user database by launching two new projects. One of them is a version of its tuned service for cheap phones, called “Facebook for Every Phone.” The other project was launched already in 2010 and is called Facebook Zero. It is a stripped down mobile website which is launched in agreement with mobile operators who are not charging data fees when the service is being used.
Titan has only 20 employees and it plans to stay in New Mexico, continued to be run by Vern Raburn, its Chief Executive. Raburn is a veteran of technology industry and was previously a head of Symantec Corp. and consumer products division at Microsoft Corp. According to Google, the Titan will work very tightly with Google’s Project Loon. This project is building large and high altitude balloons which will send Internet signals to currently offline areas of the world. There is also one other Google project with which Titan may also work. It is called Makane and it is developing airborne wind turbine which will hopefully generate energy in more efficient ways.
Google’s and Titan’s areas of focus will primarily include progressive material design for lightweight flying vehicles and also flight planning and wind prediction algorithms. Google business could profit a lot with that kind of technology, especially its Maps section. Google spokesman confirmed in his statement that Google will buy Titan Aerospace. He said that it is still early, but internet access could be brought to millions of people by atmospheric satellites. He added that other problems could also be solved, especially disaster relief and ecological damage.
Titan is developing two drones which are dragonfly shaped and they are both using batteries which charge by solar panels that are wing-mounted so they remain aloft at night also. Solara 50 is the smaller model and has a 164 feet wingspan, which is marginally larger than a Boeing 767. According to Titan, its drones can deliver up to 1 gigabit per second of Internet speed by using special communications equipment. That kind of speed is significantly faster than any other broadband speeds which are now available in most developed countries. “Initial commercial operations” are expected in 2015.
With the news that Google will buy Titan Aerospace it became even more obvious that the battle with Facebook to be the first point of contract will continue. According to Strategy Analytics, Google’s Android mobile operating system captured 79 percent worldwide market share of all shipped smartphones.
By Janette Verdnik