Google is buying Titan Aerospace, a startup that makes high-altitude drones, to so it can capture and collect remote images, according to reports.
The search giant isn't reporting how much the deal is for, although previous reports said that Facebook approached the startup with $60 million, according to an unnamed source from TechCrunch. Facebook, however, seemed to have given up the Moriarty, N.M. startup to buy Ascenta, a U.K.-based company, for $20 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. That's quite a savings on solar-powered drones.
Google said that Titan and its 20 employees will stay in New Mexico and work with its Project Loon, or high-altitude balloons that send Internet signals across the world not already online. The drones are supposed to work for years on solar power.
A Google spokesman said that the project could bring Internet access to millions of people, but it also will help Google Maps take and collect high-resolution images. Google hopes to get the drones aloft by 2015, but so far the technology may not be up to reality.
"The problem with solar planes is that they are limited to smaller payloads, at night you are not collecting energy from the sun and it takes a lot of power to broadcast Internet signals," Patrick Egan, a drone expert and an editor of sUAS News, a website covering the unmanned aircraft industry, told the WSJ.
It seems as if Facebook decided more than $60 million was a little too much for this technological gamble.