Alphabet, Google's parent company, is always on the lookout for ventures that spread its area of influence. Partnering with Sanofi to tackle diabetes, creating bipedal robots that overcome uneven terrain, and even planning out an entire city to test its self-driving cars — the company's reach seems to be limitless.
Alas, it seems that Alphabet has aimed too high this time. The company recently announced that it will be discontinuing its attempts to create solar-powered drones. Its space division, simply called X, was working on a project that would allow the said drones to provide areas with internet connectivity.
A High-Flying Project Gets Shot Down
Before it was acquired by Alphabet, Titan Aerospace, a company that specializes in high-altitude drones, was bought by Google back in 2014. Google's plan was to integrate the Titan team with Google's own Project Loon, which was the company's attempt to use high-altitude balloons in order to provide internet access to rural areas without it.
After Google merged with Alphabet in 2015, the Titan team was then absorbed into the X space division and was tasked to work on a project that would create solar-powered drones, which could take real-time images and beam down internet signals to areas without internet connectivity.
Because of other moon shots such as Google's Project Loon and Facebook's Aquila, which also aim to provide internet to the masses, Alphabet seems to have deemed the project as too similar to continue on funding it.
Focusing On Growth
This cutback is mainly due to Alphabet's aims to focus on projects that will generate growth.
Apart from the solar-powered drone project, the company has also ceased expansions of Google Fiber, which provides internet access to households in the United States. It has also put up both Boston Dynamics, a robot-making company, and Skybox Imaging, a satellite-imaging business, up for sale.
Where Does Titan Go From Here?
Upon the cancellation of the project, former Titan employees who worked at X will now be assigned to other more lucrative projects.
Jacquelyn Miller, an X representative, recently told Business Insider that even though the solar-powered drone project will not continue, X hasn't given up on providing high-flying internet access to those who need it.
Members who recently worked on the now-defunct project will be reassigned to work on the aforementioned Project Loon, with the same aim of using high-altitude balloons to provide internet access to rural areas. Aside from Project Loon, affected employees and engineers will also work on other high-flying projects, which make use of their expertise.