Speaking at the Mobile World Congress this morning, Google’s Sundar Pichai said that its Titan drones would be conducting their maiden test flight later in the year. Google is using the project to asses viability of providing internet access from above, similar to Project Loon.
Google purchased Titan Aerospace back in April of 2014 after showing an interest in the company’s drones, which can maintain high altitude for prolonged periods of time with little energy input. The Titan team is currently developing a new ultra-lightweight solar-powered drone that is capable of hovering in the stratosphere for prolonged periods of time.
The solar-powered drones would then be used to beam internet services down to the surface below, boosting bandwidth in a local area, providing access to locations previously without internet services, or assisting in areas where the internet has been taken offline, such as during a natural disaster.
Pichar suggests that Project Loon and the Titan drones could be run side by side, providing wide coverage from a balloon and zeroing in on target areas with Titan aircraft. Google eventually intends to partner up with network carriers to provide services from both the ground and air, giving total coverage to customers.