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Google Officially Ditches Project Titan Drone Broadband

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2106. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security and government IT, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

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Engineers scattered to other divisions as Titan doesn’t make enough progress to continue

Google has quietly shut down its internet drone project Titan three years after acquiring the business, instead choosing to focus on its balloon-driven Loon initiative.

The solar-powered drones were designed to provide web connectivity for remote areas of the world, with the ability to fly for several days at a time and take pictures of the earth as well as bring internet access.

After experiencing technical difficulties and financial pressures, Titan has now been closed for good and the team dispersed to other projects air-based projects, as first reported by 9to5Google.

titan aerospace facebook drone

Drone trouble

After facing competition from Facebook, Google acquired Titan Aerospace in 2014, at which time the company spoke about how “atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation.”

Almost exactly a year later Google said it was close to being able to launch ‘thousands’ of units in its Project Loon initiative and it appears that the company has now decided that Loon is the better option of the two. 

This was confirmed by an spokesperson from X Labs, the Alphabet division responsible for its most experimental projects, who said: “By comparison, at this stage the economics and technical feasibility of Project Loon present a much more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world. Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other high flying projects at X, including Loon and Project Wing.”

Titan first became a part of X during the Alphabet reorganisation in 2015. It joined Google’s other so-called ‘Moonshot’ projects such as drone delivery initiative Wing and the company’s other efforts in areas such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, with the idea being that these ventures could be worked on without seriously impacting Google’s bottom line.

However, Titan was apparently closed down in early 2015 as the X spokesperson confirmed that the “exploration of high-altitude UAVs for internet access” was ended shortly after the reshuffle took place.

The move appears to be something of a safety play by Google and its parent company Alphabet as part of a wider plan to cut back on some of its more ambitious projects in order to focus on those that have more chance of succeeding.

But Google’s not the only one having drone trouble. Facebook has had its own issues to deal with after its Aquila drone crash-landed in the Arizona desert due to “an increasing amount of turbulence.”

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