Those may have been the drones Facebook was looking for, but they now belong to Google. The Wall Street Journal reported that Google will acquire Titan Aerospace, a near-orbital, solar-powered drone manufacturer that the social network was reportedly in talks to acquire last month, with an eye toward using its Solara 60 (pictured above) unmanned aerial vehicles to help provide Internet access to unserved parts of the world, starting with Africa, as part of the Internet.org initiative.
According to the Journal, Google did not reveal a purchase price for Titan Aerospace.
Facebook ended up acquiring Ascenta for $20 million in late March, when it announced the formation of its Connectivity Lab, which will be tasked with using high-altitude long-endurance planes, satellites, and lasers to help further the mission of Internet.org — the global partnership formed by Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, and Samsung last August – of providing Internet access to parts of the world that are not connected.
According to the Journal, CEO Vern Raburn will remain at the helm of Titan Aerospace, which will continue to be based in New Mexico.
The Journal reported that Google and the team from Titan Aerospace will work closely on Project Loon, which involves building large, high-altitude balloons to accomplish the same goals as Internet.org, and with Makani, another early-stage Google project aimed at developing an airborne wind turbine to more efficiently generate energy.
Google said in a statement, as reported by the Journal:
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.
Readers: Are you surprised that Titan Aerospace ended up with Google instead of Facebook?