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Google and Facebook Want to Control the Skies

April 20, 2014
Plain English Version
Artist's rendering of Titan's Solara 50. Titan Aerospace/Associated Press

Artist’s rendering of Titan’s Solara 50. Titan Aerospace/Associated Press

Drones, powered by wind and sun, are in your future. They will deliver high-speed Internet connections to parts of the world without power.

They will take high-resolution photos of all parts of the world. They will be able to fly for years without needing to be recharged.

But do not hold your breath waiting for them to arrive. The technology to do all this is in the infant stage.

Recently, Google bought a young company named Titan Aerospace in New Mexico. Facebook was interested in the same company.

A Google spokesman said, “It is still in the early days…satellites could bring Internet access to millions. It could help with disaster relief. It could help with halting destruction of rainforests.”

Today, hot-air balloons are sending Internet signals from the skies. Google’s project Loon is building large high-altitude balloons. The balloons will be able to send signals to parts of the world that are not currently online.

Still, balloons are at the mercy of the wind and they are hard to control.

Titan is developing dragonfly-shaped drones. They will have solar panels that will allow them to fly at night. The company said it expects to be testing them in 2015.

Facebook plans to buy a company called WhatsApp. It is a messaging app. It is popular in countries such as India. Telecom carriers charge fees for standard text messages.

Amazon is not far behind. It is planning drones that will deliver small packages to customers.

Billions of dollars are at stake. Companies will own the networks that they build. Google today owns 79 percent of the world market with its Android mobile operating system.

Source: San Jose Mercury News                                                                               April 15, 2014

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