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Google acquires solar-powered drone maker Titan Aerospace
WASHINGTON — Google Inc. has bought the drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace, it said Monday, ramping up its efforts to connect parts of the world that do not have Internet access.
The tech giant said the drones will augment its efforts to use giant helium balloons armed with networking equipment to bring Internet connectivity to remote places.
‘‘Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world,’’ the company said in a statement that was also posted on Titan Aerospace’s website. ‘‘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.’’
Google declined to disclose an acquisition price.
Google is not the only tech company looking 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. For both companies, the efforts could pay off with millions of new customers.
Some of the drones built by Titan Aerospace will be able to stay in the air for up to five years without refueling or landing, according to the company’s website. The drones are in development and, the company has said, are on track to begin launching in 2015. The two-year-old company has 20 employees, who are expected to stay as part of the deal.
Media reports had previously indicated that Titan Aerospace, which is based in New Mexico, was being courted by Facebook. Instead, Facebook said 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.
About two-thirds of the world’s population is not connected to the Internet. Amazon.com also has expressed interest in developing drones — though those would fly closer to home, used as delivery vehicles.
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