April 14, 2014      

Google has acquired Titan Aerospace, maker of high-flying robot drones, which was previously wooed by Facebook.

The financial details are as yet unknown, but Google?s announcement comes on the heels of Facebook saying that it had just acquired the UK-based competitor of Titan, Ascenta.

Both Ascenta and Titan Aerospace are in the business of high altitude drones, which cruise nearer the edge of the earth?s atmosphere and provide tech that could be integral to blanketing the globe in cheap, omnipresent Internet connectivity.

Alternatively, if not bringing online presence to remote areas, might now Google be capable of bringing specialized communications to well-populated areas? Let?s just call it GoogleNet. Yes, GoogleNet; something on the order of satellite TV, but with the ability to deliver whatever it wanted, totally unconstrained by government.

Maybe that new service might deliver things for social good, maybe not. Would Vladimir Putin be at all interested in renting a Google Titan to endlessly circle the Pentagon? U.S. airspace ceiling ends at 60,000 feet; the Titans fly above that. Oh, well, jus say?n.

Titan and its roughly 20 employees will stay in New Mexico and the company will continue to be run, said Google, by Chief Executive Vern Raeburn, a technology-industry veteran who previously headed Symantec Corp.

The wild blue yonder just got wilder!

Google said Titan will work closely with its Project Loon, which is building large, high-altitude balloons that send Internet signals to areas of the world that are currently not online. Titan also may work with Makani, another early-stage Google project that is developing an airborne wind turbine that it hopes will generate electricity efficiently.

Areas of focus for these teams will include advanced material design for lightweight flying vehicles and algorithms for wind prediction and flight planning, Google said.

Titan has said its drones could collect real-time, high-resolution images of the earth, carry other atmospheric sensors and support voice and data services. That type of technology could help Google businesses, such as its Maps division.

“It is 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,” a Google spokesman said in a statement.

Titan aircraft

Titan is developing two dragonfly-shaped drones powered by batteries charged by wing-mounted solar panels to remain aloft at night.The smaller model, the Solara 50, has a 164-foot wingspan, larger than a Boeing Co. 767 jetliner.

Titan claims that its drones can help deliver data at speeds of up to one gigabit a second using special communications equipment. That would be significantly faster than broadband speeds available in most developed countries.