UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Google acquires stratospheric drone-maker

April 17, 2014 at 11:57 pm 2 comments

Googling Drones.

Titan Aerospace's SOLARA high altitude solar-powered drone at last year's Unmanned Systems expo in Washington (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Titan Aerospace’s SOLARA high altitude solar-powered drone at last year’s AUVSI Unmanned Systems expo in Washington.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Last August when we encountered the folks at Titan Aerospace during the big annual droids, drones and robots exposition in Washington, we never dreamed the New Mexico-based start-up would be the subject to a bidding war between Internet giants.

But that’s what happened earlier this week (April 14), when Titan Aerospace announced it had been acquired by Google. There had been media speculation the company was being courted by Facebook. Titan Aerospace says its solar-power unmanned aircraft can fly for years and do the things a rocket-launched satellite can do — for a fraction of the cost. Among those tasks: serving as a high-flying (50,000 feet or more) communications relay and surveillance aircraft.

Your 4GWAR editor interviewed several Titan Aerospace executives and engineers for an Unmanned Systems magazine piece on unmanned craft driven by alternative power systems. Everyone connected with the small company based in the high desert of New Mexico  seemed young and energetic — and thoroughly convinced of the merit of the SOLARA, the massive unmanned aircrfat they call an “atmospheric satellite.”

Launched by catapult, the SOLARA is expected to soar for as much as five years without landing — powered by thousands of solar cells embedded in composite material of the aircrfat’s wings and fuselage. Google says it wants to use the SOLARA and other technology to bring the Internet to under-served parts of the world.

 

 

 

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Entry filed under: Aircraft, News Developments, Technology, Unmanned Aircraft, Unmanned Systems, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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