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Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the welcome-to-the-google dept.

Google 41

garymortimer (1882326) writes "Google has acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace. Titan is a New Mexico-based company that makes high-flying solar powered drones. There's no word on the price Google paid, but Facebook had been in talks to acquire the company earlier this year for a reported $60 million. Presumably, Google paid more than that to keep it away from Facebook. 'Google had just recently demonstrated how its Loon prototype balloons could traverse the globe in a remarkably short period of time, but the use of drones could conceivably make a network of Internet-providing automotons even better at globe-trotting, with a higher degree of control and ability to react to changing conditions. Some kind of hybrid system might also be in the pipeline that marries both technologies.'"

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Fuck beta!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750487)

Have you ever noticed how men always leave the toilet seat up?

That's the joke.

Why in the FUCK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750493)

would either Google or especially Facebook be buying drone companies? These companies obviously have WAY too much money and are WAY overvalued. I suppose it is smart that rather than wait for the bubble to burst and the share price to crash, wiping out billions in value, they're trying to get stuff that is worth something while they still can. Still, this is actually kind of unsettling to me and makes me wonder if we may cruising obliviously towards the next text meltdown, sooner rather than later?

Re:Why in the FUCK (5, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46750597)

would either Google or especially Facebook be buying drone companies? These companies obviously have WAY too much money and are WAY overvalued. I suppose it is smart that rather than wait for the bubble to burst and the share price to crash, wiping out billions in value, they're trying to get stuff that is worth something while they still can. Still, this is actually kind of unsettling to me and makes me wonder if we may cruising obliviously towards the next text meltdown, sooner rather than later?

It's alluded to in the summary, and spelled out in TFA - both companies have shown interest in providing internet access in underserved areas through aerial platforms:

Both Ascenta and Titan Aerospace are in the business of high altitude drones, which cruise nearer the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and provide tech that could be integral to blanketing the globe in cheap, omnipresent Internet connectivity to help bring remote areas online. According to the WSJ, Google will be using Titan Aerospace’s expertise and tech to contribute to Project Loon, the balloon-based remote Internet delivery project it’s currently working on along these lines.

...

The main goal, however, is likely spreading the potential reach of Google and its network, which is Facebook’s aim, too. When you saturate your market and you’re among the world’s most wealthy companies, you don’t go into maintenance mode; you build new ones.

Re:Why in the FUCK (1)

mozumder (178398) | about 6 months ago | (#46752045)

It's alluded to in the summary, and spelled out in TFA - both companies have shown interest in providing internet access in underserved areas through aerial platforms:

Incorrect.

The correct answer is both companies have no idea what the fuck they're doing, so they're throwing money at whatever they can in the hope that something sticks and draws press publicity.

Remember, Facebook is the same company that had no problem showing beheading videos, while having an advertiser supported business model.

Think about that: Why would any company place their valuable brand ad next to a beheading video?

Plus feel free to look up horrifying shit on Google or YouTube and check to see if brands want their ads placed next to them.

And everything in Google is ultimately an advertising-based business model, including Google Earth.

So, these west coast tech idiots have absolutely NO idea what they're doing, as they try to replicate the success of east coast advertising businesses. They're so fucking bad at advertising, that somehow they caused geeks to think of advertising as bad.

Meanwhile, non-geeks are able to sell local newspapers and magazines with hundreds of ad pages BECAUSE of the advertising.

Right now, advertising business model is some mysterious secret art that west-coast geeks can't figure out. Even with 1.5 billion viewers, Facebook only ends up making $6billion/year on ads, something Hearst does with just a few million subscribers.

But the geeks have money, and they'll keep trying.

It's incredible how bad tech geeks are at advertising business models. Just completely clueless.

Re:Why in the FUCK (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 6 months ago | (#46753377)

Aside from Internet access, drone companies really offer something real to sell. The tech from the drone industry can be applied to smartphones (and vice versa with drones), IoT, research, space exploration (and vice versa), manufacturing, transportation, logistics and such. More than any computer graphics company or LCD nowadays when it comes to new tech.

That's compared to back in the 2001's: pets.com, Boo.com, Broadcast.com, GovWorks.com, InfoSpace, microstrategy, etc...

Now, Google buying up all the robotics companies I would be concerned, as Robotics have been a holy grail for decades. Maybe drones will make that real. It's a wise splurge if anything... but an investment.

Re:Why in the FUCK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46754661)

Blah blah blah...

Bullshit. They want an air force, PERIOD. It's the sort of thing you do when you're well on your way to becoming a de facto country. They already have their own public transportation system, banking/financial system, intelligence/spying agency, media, and let's not forget, a navy.

Soon (if they don't already,) they'll have their own language, currency, an official religion, and start issuing passports.

I wonder what form of government they'll have... will it be an oligarchy? A democracy like the one we're supposed to have? Something else?

Re:Why in the FUCK (5, Insightful)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 6 months ago | (#46750667)

It's cheaper to send a couple drones up to tirelessly update the aerial photography in Google Earth than manned aircraft.

Re:Why in the FUCK (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 6 months ago | (#46751439)

It would be great if people could request an update on a specific location. Possible way to monetize that would be that a person could pay to climb the queue.

Re:Why in the FUCK (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46752859)

It would be great if people could request an update on a specific location. Possible way to monetize that would be that a person could pay to climb the queue.

They already can, they just have to work for a 3 letter government agency.

Re:Why in the FUCK (1)

d'baba (1134261) | about 6 months ago | (#46754265)

Yeah, I'd like to order an update of Barbra Streisand's house.

Re:Why in the FUCK (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 6 months ago | (#46752205)

In light of the flying car vaporware weve been promised for decades, Google is going to provide Jetsons View in addition to street view, in an attempt to pacify some bitterness in the world.

Re:Why in the FUCK (5, Funny)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 6 months ago | (#46750771)

Mark Zuckerberg wanted to replace Facebook's "What are you doing?" prompt with "How much will you pay us to not tell everyone what you're really doing?"

Re:Why in the FUCK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750909)

Mark Zuckerberg wanted to replace Facebook's "What are you doing?" prompt with "How much will you pay us to not tell everyone what you're really doing?"

Fuckerberg also rightly called out all the "fucking idiots" who share their personal info with his company. He's a dbag but he only has all this power because the attention whores of the world gave it to him willingly.

Re:Why in the FUCK (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 6 months ago | (#46751029)

One concept- on station floating wifi.

Nice for rural areas.. (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 6 months ago | (#46750509)

But wireless is fundamentally inferior to wired, I'd much rather have fiber in metro areas in terms of home internet. Mobile internet? Hells yeah, this could do an end-run around the big carriers. If Google truly wanted to "do no evil" they'd build a kickass flying infrastructure system and then lease it out to providers to sell.

Re:Nice for rural areas.. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 6 months ago | (#46750661)

How exactly would you expect them to build a wireless network without encroaching on everyone else's spectrum? Did you even think that through?

Re:Nice for rural areas.. (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46750985)

How exactly would you expect them to build a wireless network without encroaching on everyone else's spectrum?

The ground transmitter and drone will have a line-of-sight connection. So they could use microwave or even visible light. There is plenty of available spectrum for this type of application. Both the ground transmitter and drone could use a narrow directional signal.

Ware;s teh Inn0v@ti0nzzzz?!?!?!/1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750545)

But... but... but.... It'z teh G00gleSSS!!!!!!!!!111111111111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Live Google Maps? (2)

SlickUSA (1749194) | about 6 months ago | (#46750547)

If they send up enough sats, could they make google maps realtime?

Re:Live Google Maps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750613)

Real time? No.
Near real time? Why the hell not.

Re:Live Google Maps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750651)

There will be government entities standying by to demand lower resolution photographs/streaming of certain areas due to national security. This happens already, if Google is even allowed to buy high enough resolution images of certain areas.

How many people will demand and possibly sue Google to make sure certain areas aren't being monitored? How long until "terrorists" start using this realtime view of the world to plan and coordinate attacks? Stalk your ex by following her car during the day?

If you could have a realtime view of the entire world, it sure as hell wouldn't be available to the average consumer.

Re:Live Google Maps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752395)

30 years ago Google Earth type aerial photos were the preserve of elite militarized intelligence operations. There is no reason to think that realtime, or near realtime updates would not be provided to the public eventually, if a commercial case can be made.

Re:Live Google Maps? (2)

tsqr (808554) | about 6 months ago | (#46750997)

If they send up enough sats, could they make google maps realtime?

Realtime sounds like you're asking for the video edition of Google Earth. Let's assume you meant "updated frequently" instead. We'll also assume you're not interested in continuously updated images of empty ocean.

Land surface area of our planet is about 57.3 million square miles. An aircraft at 65,000 ft has an observable "footprint" of a circle 600 miles in diameter; that's about 283,000 square miles. So at first blush, it looks like you'd need 203 or so aircraft to cover the land area. But you'd need substantially more aircraft, because equal-sized circles don't pack without a lot of overlap (for example, with a hexagonal pattern, 14 circles of unit diameter are required to cover a rectangle of 8 square units); aside from that, you probably aren't going to get usable imagery at the extreme edges of the footprint. There's also the inefficiency involved in covering small, isolated islands. You can get by with fewer aircraft if you can live with a lower refresh rate and can have each aircraft orbit with a wide radius rather than try to stay in one location. On the other hand, you're going to need a lot of spare aircraft, because even though they're solar powered, they depend on things like motors and batteries and servo actuators to stay aloft and operate through the night time and stay on station, and those things don't last forever.

Then there's the issue of single-event upsets and single-event latchups, which can be a major problem at the altitudes we're talking about. It's also very cold at 65,000 ft, so a lot of stuff that would be OK at the surface is going to have to be heated to stay operational at altitude, which means more batteries and a bigger solar array. Then, although their routine operation would be autonomous, there will have to be some level of human monitoring, because you'd sort of like to avoid having airplanes full of lithium batteries falling into urban areas.

So yeah, it could be done in theory. In practice, it might be too expensive.

Re:Live Google Maps? (4, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 6 months ago | (#46751051)

We'll also assume you're not interested in continuously updated images of empty ocean.
 
I think the families of Malaysian Flight 370 might have something to say about that.

Re:Live Google Maps? (2)

tsqr (808554) | about 6 months ago | (#46751389)

I think the families of Malaysian Flight 370 might have something to say about that.

I'm sure they would, but the original question was about Google Earth, not ISR.

If you want continuous coverage of all the world's oceans (you would, right; who knows where the next aircraft would disappear to?), then the coverage area balloons from 57.3 million square miles, to about 197 square miles. So, roughly quadruple the number of aircraft required to about 1200. Unit cost would be somewhere between $5 million and $10 million; at the lower number figure $6 billion or so just for the aircraft. Add in ground support equipment, control equipment and people to run the system, and you're starting to talk about some real money. In the history of commercial aviation, a total of 4 commercial passenger airliners have been lost (by which I mean, they disappeared and no trace was ever found), not counting MH370. If MH370 is never found, it will be the first to be lost since 1962.

Re:Live Google Maps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46755451)

Then they can pay for it.

Hopefully $2 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750563)

It just doesn't look good if you don't pay billion$.

Re:Hopefully $2 billion (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 months ago | (#46750643)

Mark...is that you?

Fuck Google (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750663)

Fuck g00gle and their fucked up drones and spyglasses, wardrivers and everything else they defile on earth.

Re:Fuck Google (1)

NIK282000 (737852) | about 6 months ago | (#46750917)

I know, don't feed the trolls but when did war driving turn into a bad thing? Was it when it stopped being internet hipster enough because 'big data' started to do it?
 
if paranoid = 1 {
  Lock up your wifi
}

OpenSSL: The failure of Open Source (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750725)

Open source software is often freely available at no costs to downloaders and embedders. There is little incentive for them to pay anything for it, including for support, since the main reason to adopt this software is to not pay at all. The result is that there are few resources for testing or documenting the software and no incentive for the developers to care about the usage by others and actively develop the software outside of their own use cases.

To further compound the issue, activists proclaim that the software code is reviewed by millions of people since it is freely available to anyone. The fallacy of this argument resides in the lack of interest of anyone to do this. Indeed, who will review other people's code for free or for fun? Vulnerabilities such as the Heartbleed bug are always found by using and probing the software, not by reviewing the code.

OpenSSL is the new poster child for the failed open source movement. No one cared, no one will care.

US/Canada: no internet for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46751377)

I guess they'll be avoiding N.America. Cause last I recalled the FAA says no to commerical companies--that's unless Google is willing to create a business based on something the gov't says is illegal? [slashdot.org]

Re:US/Canada: no internet for you! (1)

edjs (1043612) | about 6 months ago | (#46751795)

Google at its disposal a very well funded surface drone force (AKA lobbyists) - with enough whining and dining I'm sure they can get the regulatory approval they need.

see Cringely, won't work (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 6 months ago | (#46751695)

he already shot down Amazon's drone plan, based on mathematics of powering electric planes, and the number that would have to be in the air.

now, if Google was going to use drones to deliver upgrades and patches...

but I bet it just looked cool, and they had cash in their pocket while window shopping.

Re:see Cringely, won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46752139)

Hey, maybe Google will buy a battery company while they're at it. It would round out this huge robot buying spree.

The main reason this can work (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 months ago | (#46752351)

Is the availability of solar power, and the low energy need to run basic wi-fi

But one needs long-term trials showing survivability during storms and inclement weather events, as well as impacts on aviation due to mobile wi-fi.

The main design choice is between mobile wi-fi repeater platforms that communicate with satellites for a period of time, and ones that have a fairly long lifespan (2-3 years) and are mobile to locate at a specific region. If you keep things up in the air, stuff happens to them. In the New Zealand trials in remote areas, the lifespan was a bit short, so the cost per day of service depends on the weather.

makani (1)

4wdloop (1031398) | about 6 months ago | (#46753325)

And I thought they wanted makani kiteplains for green energy....they probably want them for the same as the other drones?

Facebook offered $60 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46753693)

Cheapskates. They paid $1 billion for the 15-person company named Instagram that had no revenues. They also paid $19 billion for another company with no revenue named Whatsapp.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46754129)

I'll start to get excited when they buy Hammond Robotics...

Here's the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46754967)

So Google owns AI tech, robots and now drones. I'll keep telling myself ''Fahrenheit 451' is just story. They used robotic dogs to assassinate the dissidents. Or worse, 'Terminator 2' used drones to shoot people on sight.

streetview is so last year.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46759445)

bring on the privacy busting airview.

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