For a moment, it seemed like Google and Facebook were about to pursue two different techniques to deliver internet signals from the sky: Google with weather balloons, and Facebook with high-flying drones. But now, it seems that Google will own drones as well. Google has just bought Titan Aerospace, the very company that Facebook was rumored to be acquiring.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Titan Aerospace team will work with Google's existing Project Loon balloon team, as well as the Makani airborne wind turbine power company that Google acquired last year. But rather than be assimilated into the Google collective, Titan's employees will stay in New Mexico under existing leadership.
Building platforms in the sky
"Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world. 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," a Google spokesperson writes.
Google's airborne play doesn't mean that Facebook is out of the game to deliver internet to the far corners of the globe, though. Last month, the social network obtained its own drone team by buying Ascenta, another company developing solar-powered flying platforms designed to stay aloft for a long period.
While the legality of using drones for commercial purposes is currently on hold in the United States, which could make testing difficult, the FAA is hoping to have a regulatory framework in place by 2015. That's when Titan Aerospace has previously said its drones will be ready to deliver up to 1 gigabit per second internet connections, for up to five years at time, across 1,000 miles of remote countryside — each.