The battle between Google and Facebook is equipped now in the race to connect the billions of people to the Internet who are currently in scarce or remote areas. It began on Facebook’s buy list for a drone manufacturer, but Titan Aerospace purchase from Google was announced late Monday by the Wall Street Journal.
The price was not announced as Facebook had also been in negotiations with the solar powered drone maker Titan Aerospace for a reported $60 million until Google offered to top any Facebook amount. Facebook has purchased Ascenta, a British company, with drones as a puzzle piece to add to their Internet connectivity plans.
Google’s mapping the world by satellite will be a complimentary piece with this acquisition of the New Mexico-based solar drone developer. The Titan drones can travel for weeks or months. Titan has two dragon-fly drones in development for flight in 2015. The power for the drones will be batteries which are solar charged and mounted on the wingspan so continuous flight at night will be achieved.
The Titan drones are planned to fly at speeds up to one gigabit a second equipped with special equipment for communication and traveling faster than broadband speeds now available. Development to reality will require solving the payload issue of limitation. Since energy cannot collect at night it will require working through the engineering design for maintenance of power.
Google's plan for this drone technology would be to emit signals down for connection of the Internet, collect real-time, high resolution images of the earth and provide atmospheric sensors and maintain voice and data services. The drones would partner in work efforts with the Google Maps division because of these capability features.
Project Loon, the helium air balloon project, of Google will work closely with Titan since they can carry more weight. Balloons are difficult to control and maintain performance due to weather conditions but they can still balance the project of Internet connection with the Titan drones.
Micro mapping which has been used during disaster situations as the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year was not possible with limited cell phone capacity. The drones however could help disaster situations with atmospheric satellites. There are many applications to achieve assistance in dire situations to reaching out to the billions of people in the world who have not been reached by the Internet.
At the time of discussion with Facebook, the Titan was reported to be able to carry a payload of 70 pounds and travel up to 60,000-70,000 feet which would pass beyond commercial jetliners. The area of coverage was 18 miles to provide connectivity. This is the future for reaching Africa, Asia and South America in sparse population areas and hard to reach areas. The battle for this Internet reach has two Titans in battle for the connection to the world.