By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 15, 2014 07:33 AM EDT
Google just bought drone company Titan Aerospace, weeks after Facebook courted the startup and ultimately decided to take over another drone business.
Titan Aerospace is a New Mexico-based startup that builds drones, i.e. unmanned vehicles that can fly long distances. Titan's drones are also solar powered, charging during the day and flying for extended periods of time. This acquisition is part of Google's effort to bring Internet access to remote areas. Google will use Titan's expertise to deliver Internet service through a fleet of drones carrying radio transmitters, beaming wireless signals.
"At Titan Aerospace, we're passionate believers in the potential for technology (and in particular, atmospheric satellites) to improve people's lives," Titan said in a statement on its website.
"It's still early days for the technology we're developing, and there are a lot of ways that we think we could help people, whether it's providing internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation. That's why we couldn't be more excited to learn from and work with our new colleagues as we continue our research, testing and design work as part of the Google family."
Although the technology is still in its early days, atmospheric satellites have great potential not only for delivering Internet access to millions of people in far-flung locations, but also to help solve other pressing issues such as disaster relief or environmental damage caused by deforestation.
At the same time, Google could also use drones to capture real-time photos and footage from around the world, which would greatly benefit its online maps and services such as Google Earth, potentially allowing for more accurate satellite views of our planet.
Titan's unmanned flying vehicles can maintain flight patterns for extended periods of time - months or even years - while soaring within the Earth's atmosphere at lower altitudes compared to traditional space satellites.
Drones are increasingly gaining momentum and heavyweight companies are now racing to take over the skies with their own fleets of unmanned flying vehicles. When it comes to providing Internet access to remote locations, using high-altitude drones is seen as a quicker and cheaper solution compared to installing wired telecoms in developing markets with meager infrastructure.
Google's acquisition of Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed amount could mean great things considerin the technology's huge potential, and the company expects the deal to reach completion sometime next year.