titan aerospace
April 15, 2014

Drone Maker Titan Aerospace To Become A Google-Owned Company

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Not so fast Facebook. Google just bought Titan Aerospace, a company that makes drones, which Facebook entered into contract to acquire in early March for $60 million.

Titan Aerospace has become the target of Silicon Valley giants for its development of a solar-powered drone that can fly for several years without ever touching down. Google did not disclose details of the purchase, the Wall Street Journal reports. It did say that Titan and its 20 employees will remain in New Mexico. Google said Titan Chief Executive Vern Raeburn will continue to run the company, as a unit of Google.

Facebook was interested in Titan and its drones to work on founder Mark Zuckerberg's passion project Internet.org, which will supply Internet connectivity to people in developing countries. Google will use the Titan acquisition to support its Project Loon, in which Google originally intended to supply wireless Internet access from the skies via balloons, which would reach people in remote areas. Project Loon hit a milestone earlier this month when it launched a balloon that was able to circumnavigate the globe in just 22 days.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, the Titan team focuses on advanced material design for lightweight flying vehicles and algorithms for wind prediction and flight planning. Google may expect the Titan team to work outside of its core area of developing and producing drones.

“Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world," Google said in a statement provided to Mashable's Todd Wasserman. "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. It’s why we’re so excited to welcome Titan Aerospace to the Google family."

The Titan team may also work with Makani, Mashable reports. Makani is a Google project that is developing an airborne wind turbine.

If deployed, the drones will be capable of more than simply blanketing remote areas with Internet access. Google listed a number of humanitarian efforts the drones can provide. They can also provide high-resolution images of earth, navigation and mapping services and atmospheric-based monitoring systems, BusinessWeek reports. Imaging and mapping systems can enhance services such as Google Maps, and provide real-time updates such as traffic data and weather information.

Google's interest in drones follows a pattern of widening its operations. "Google has been investing in numerous projects outside its core Internet search business to extend its reach. The company has spent on products like connected Google Glass eyewear and driverless cars. Last year, Google acquired Boston Dynamics Inc., which makes robots for the U.S. Defense Department," wrote BusinessWeek's Brian Womack.

Facebook likely backed out of its intent to acquire Titan Aerospace soon after talks became public. The company completed another deal that brought on team members from UK-based Ascenta, PC World reports. Ascenta also makes a solar-powered unmanned aircraft. That deal was reportedly worth $20 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.