Google confirmed Monday that it has bought drone-maker Titan Aerospace, in a bid to supplement its efforts to connect parts of the world that do not have Internet access.
The tech giant will be developing the drones alongside its work on "Project Loon," which aims to use giant helium balloons attached to networking equipment to bring connectivity to remote places. Google is not the only tech giant looking into how to get users in parts of the world currently off the network connected to the Web; Facebook has also said it will employ drones to fix that problem.
Apart from the altruistic motives, connecting new parts of the world also means new customers for Internet firms.
Google confirmed the deal in a statement that outlined ways that the company could use the drones in the future, but declined to disclose an acquisition price.
“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," the company said in a statement that was also posted to the Titan Aerospace Web site. "It’s why we’re so excited to welcome Titan Aerospace to the Google family.”
Some of the drones produced by Titan Aerospace are capable of staying in the air for up to five years without having to refuel or land, according to the company's Web site.
Media reports had previously indicated that Titan Aerospace, which is based in New Mexico, was being courted by Facebook. Instead Facebook announced last month that it had bought a British drone-maker, Ascenta. The social network plans to use the drones to provide Web access to "the next 5 billion" people. Currently, about two-thirds of the world's population is not connected to the Internet. Amazon.com has also expressed an interest in developing drones, though those would fly closer to home, as delivery drones.
(Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.)