Alphabet’s Titan solar-powered drone permanently grounded

JC Torres - Jan 12, 2017, 6:30am CST
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Alphabet’s Titan solar-powered drone permanently grounded

Being a Google X, now just X, project may mean you get some media attention by virtue of association with Google, but that’s no guarantee you’ll actually survive. Some, like self-driving cars, do become companies of their own. Others, like Barge and Glass, however, might never see the light of day ever again. Joining the latter’s ranks is Project Titan, Google’s former solar-powered, Internet bearing drone, which has just been declared redundant in lieu of the already in-flight Project Loon balloons.

Google has always wanted to bring the Internet, and therefore its services and ads, even to the most remote places in the world, where Internet cables have no hope of reaching. To do that, Google took to the skies, first with high-altitude balloons under the Project Loon group, and then with an even higher flying drone.

Project Titan got its name from Titan Aerospace, the original developers of this solar-powered UAV, which was acquired by Google in 2014. The idea was to have these drones deliver Internet to those same remote areas but in a more self-sufficient way. By harnessing the power of the sun, the Titan drone can, in theory, fly almost indefinitely, storing excess energy for when there is no sun.

That’s the theory. In practice, Project Titan may have hit a few snags that made Alphabet, X’s new parent, question its feasibility. Whether those snags are technological or financial, we may never know. In the final analysis, Alphabet already has a working, Internet-over-the-air program in operation, one that has a more or less proven track record. As part of its austerity measures, Titan got the boot. An insider source says that some of the employees from the project were transferred to Project Loon. Others, however, were not so lucky.

Alphabet isn’t done with drones yet, however. It still has Project Wing, which aims to be its drone delivery service. The feasibility of that enterprise, however, is also not yet clear, even if retail king Amazon itself is interested in that space.

VIA: Business Insider


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