Wireless-beaming Titan drones will hit the skies in the next few months and Google's Project Loon balloons spreading the Internet across the globe can now stay afloat for six months, confirmed Sundar Pichai, Google's senior VP, at Mobile World Congress.
The announcement, made on MWC's opening day in Barcelona, confirms Google's intent to bring wireless connectivity to even the most remote areas of the globe. Both Project Loon and Titan plan to deliver Wi-Fi to users outside the reach of traditional infrastructure via flying devices.
The Project Loon development is impressive considering that as recently as November the balloons could only fly for about 100 days. Project Loon, recently named as one of MIT Technology Review's 10 breakthrough technologies for 2015, delivers LTE data speed through giant balloons that fly high in the stratosphere. Project Loon reports that a balloon has now been in flight for 187 days. It was launched from New Zealand in July 2014, has circumnavigated the globe seven times and is currently in a stable location over Argentina.
From a height of 60,000 feet, the balloons, measuring 50 feet across, can provide connectivity to vast swathes of areas below, reaching anyone within 25 miles. Successful testing has already taken place in New Zealand, Australia and Brazil and by the end of the year Google hopes to test connectivity across the entire Southern Hemisphere.
Pichai admitted that the Titan drones were at a much earlier stage of development, roughly where Loon was a few years ago. Titan, which was acquired by Google in April 2014, builds a drone that can stay aloft for long periods of time, which allows it to deliver Internet access to those below.
The proposed drones would be far more maneuverable than balloons and could hold their position in the stratosphere, which means they could be used to deliver wireless access to specific areas where they were most needed, like a region that has been hit by natural disaster. Pichai wasn't giving away too much detail -- just that there would be an initial launch in the next few months.
Photo Credit: Google