Alphabet Says It Shut Down Titan Drone Internet Project
In 2014, Google and Facebook vied to acquire Titan Aerospace, a maker of high-altitude solar-powered drones. Google won the bidding, so Facebook purchased its own company, which was building a huge glider called Aquila, according to Bloomberg.
The idea was to beam internet access from the sky to get more people logging on from remote places to access information and probably use both companies’ web services. That soaring vision has come down to Earth with a bump. A spokeswoman from Alphabet’s X research lab said it had shut down Titan. This happened in early 2016, she said, although confirmation didn’t come until January 2017, when technology blog 9to5Google reported the move.
The team from Titan was brought into X in late 2015, and the research lab ended its exploration of high-altitude drones for internet access shortly after, the X spokeswoman said in a statement. Facebook has also struggled. Its Aquila drone crashed during a test flight in June. That was the latest hiccup in Facebook’s plans to wirelessly connect the world, following an explosion earlier in 2016 that destroyed one of its satellites and political resistance to its free services in India.
Alphabet canceled Titan because of economic and technical challenges. Project Loon, another X project to beam internet from high-altitude balloons, is still going. So is Project Wing, an effort to use drones for deliveries, rather than internet service.