Google beats Facebook to buy drone-makers Titan Aerospace

The company’s latest high-profile acquisition will further the tech giant’s plans to beam internet from drones to rural and underdeveloped areas

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg narrowly missed out on acquiring Titan Aerospace. According to media reports, the social network had been in talks to buy the drone developer before Google beat its best offer

Google beat Facebook in completing the deal to buy Titan Aerospace for undisclosed terms. The internet giant has recently been escalating a race to offer access and services to remote areas as they fight for new users.

New Mexico-based Titan Aerospace manufactures drones for a variety of purposes, but the deal will propel the company to the forefront of internet innovation. The technology to beam internet access from the sky is still unproven and has never been tested on a large scale.

The drones remove the need for traditional internet infrastructure – cell towers or traditional phone cables. Google also say that the drones will be used for imagery of remote areas.

Titan Aerospace is now believed to be building jet-sized drones that could fly for years at
a time thanks to
solar power

Titan Aerospace is now believed to be building jet-sized drones that could fly for years at a time thanks to solar power. Google said that Titan would work closely with Project Loon, the tech giant’s balloon-based global internet provider.

Project Loon works by sending balloons into the stratosphere, where they slowly circle the globe and relay internet access to remote areas. It is not yet known if Project Loon and the new drones will work co-operatively in a two-stage system.

According to inside sources, Google prefer a drone-based solution because balloons can be blown off course and are generally harder to keep in one place. The search engine giant said that their teams were now researching advanced material design for lightweight flying vehicles and how to best calculate flight plans.

The company expects “initial commercial operations” in 2015, contradicting recent claims from Amazon, who are developing short-hop drones to deliver packages, that drones are four or five years away from meaningful commercial use.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook had been in negotiations with Titan for “weeks”. The talks broke down after Google pledged to beat Facebook’s best offer, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The social network giant has also been developing its own drone-based internet solution after it first became interested around six months ago. In a recent announcement Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder, said that Facebook’s ‘Connectivity Lab’ was building “drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone.”

Recently, Facebook say they have helped three million people access the internet in Paraguay and the Philippines by partnering with operators to improve mobile data access in the country.

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