Solar drones: Google's new business area

Google not only use balloons to carry the Internet to remote areas of the world. Now Google is also buying the drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace. Facebook had also shown interest in the US company. Both IT companies seem to be pursuing the idea of ​​making the Web globally available in order to attract new users to their services.

Titan Aerospace and Google confirmed the acquisition, but did not name a purchase price. When buying negotiations between Facebook and the drone manufacturer became known last month, there was talk of a sum of $ 60 million. However, according to the Wall Street Journal , Google offered to outbid every possible Facebook offer. The social network then evaded and slid $ 20 million into Ascenta, a smaller British manufacturer of unmanned and solar-powered aircraft, to integrate its experts into the Connectivity Lab.

Titan Aerospace's Solera 50 has a wingspan of around 50 meters and can stay in the air for up to five years. (Image: Titan Aerospace).

Titan's drones can stay in the air for up to 5 years. They almost go into orbit, which is why the company also speaks of "satellites for the atmosphere". They were first presented last year. Possible applications include weather research and monitoring, civil protection, aerial photography and communication services.

Titan Aerospace builds two drone models in the shape of a dragonfly, of which the smaller Solera 50 already has a larger wing span than a Boeing 767. The approximately 20 employees will continue to operate in the US state of New Mexico. CEO remains Vern Raburn, who once headed the Symantec Consumer Products division.

The company is still in the early stages of commercial use of its drones. Google said the technique could be used in particular for aerial photography and for providing internet access to remote regions. It also announced that Titan will work closely with Project Loon . This project from the Google X research lab provides a ring of balloons carried by stratospheric winds around the Earth. They are to connect rural, remote and underserved regions of the world. After natural disasters, they could help to keep the communication channels open.

Titan could also partner with Makani Power , a company acquired a year ago and also integrated into the Google X research arm. Makani wants to gain energy with flying wind turbines and lets them fly like kites in the air, but secures them with a rope on the ground. It wants to use the stable winds at a higher altitude and generate energy very efficiently.