Google Just Bought a Drone Company That Facebook Passed On

The purchase is part of the tech giant’s project to bring the Internet to the developing world.

National Journal
Alex Brown
April 14, 2014, 10:26 a.m.

Google and Face­book are tak­ing their fight for In­ter­net dom­in­a­tion from the air­waves to the air­space.

Google an­nounced Monday it’s buy­ing Ti­tan Aerospace, a drone maker that not long ago was slated to be pur­chased by Face­book (Face­book ended up buy­ing a U.K.-based drone com­pany).

Both com­pan­ies are try­ing to ex­pand their reach in­to the world of users who don’t cur­rently have In­ter­net — get there first and you can get them hooked on your products.

The pur­chase price for the Google deal was not an­nounced, but Ti­tan’s near-deal with Face­book was re­por­ted to be $60 mil­lion.

Ti­tan’s sol­ar-powered drones can fly for five years at a time, gath­er­ing sol­ar power with their wings. At 65,000 feet, the com­pany says its “cell towers in the sky” of­fer the range of 100 ground-based towers and can provide In­ter­net faster than most broad­band.

The drones will join Google’s Pro­ject Loon, which plans to use bal­loons to send In­ter­net sig­nals to the de­vel­op­ing world.

In ad­di­tion, the drones can provide high-res­ol­u­tion ima­ging, which Google may use for its maps. The com­pany also noted po­ten­tial uses for its drones could in­clude dis­aster re­lief and en­vir­on­ment­al mon­it­or­ing.

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