Google Confirmed Its Titan Drones Will Be Tested By The End Of This Year
Beside Project Loon, Google has also been working on Internet drones — just like Facebook. And at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, Google’s Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai announced that Titan — the drone company that Google acquired in April, 2014 — could be conducting its first test flight by the end of this year. The acquisition was decided since Titan Aerospace had caught the eyes of Facebook as well. And while the largest social network company has made big steps on its “Internet Drones” Project, the technology of Titan Aerospace will help to advance Google’s Project Loon.
According to Pichai, the Titan team is building a new type of super lightweight solar-powered airplane that would be capable of hovering in one area of the stratosphere and beam Internet signals down to a targeted area on the ground below, supplementing existing services with extra bandwidth, or providing access in an area that’s suddenly offline, for example after an earthquake or other disaster.
Google has launched hundreds of its Internet balloons into the sky, lofted by helium. Currently, a couple of dozen float over the Southern Hemisphere at an altitude of around 12.4 miles, in the rarely visited stratosphere — nearly twice the height of commercial airplanes. Each balloon supports a boxy gondola stuffed with solar-powered electronics. They make a radio link to a telecommunications network on the ground and beam down high-speed cellular Internet coverage to smartphones and other devices.
One of the most significant was developing a way to operate pilot balloons across thousands of miles without any form of propulsion. The stratosphere, which typically is used only by weather balloons and spy planes, is safely above clouds, storms, and commercial flights, but it has strong winds, sometimes exceeding 186 MPH. In addition, making the balloons sturdier so that they can spend more time in the stratosphere is another challenge. Made from polyethylene plastic with the feel of a heavy-weight trash bag, the material is easily pierced with a fingertip, and a stray grain of grit in the factory can make a pinprick-size hole that will bring a balloon back to earth after less than two weeks. However, by flexibly using Internet balloons and Internet drones, Google will be able to solve those problems. By the end of 2015, the company plans to have enough balloons in the air to test nearly continuous service in several parts of the Southern Hemisphere, as well as test flight the Titan drone.
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