Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) agreed Monday to buy Titan Aerospace, maker of solar powered high altitude drones, winning a battle with fellow Silicon Valley consumer data aggregator Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) over the purchase.
No mention of obvious military usage in initial reports
A report in the Wall Street Journal noted that the Internet search firm added to its aerial photography capabilities and ability to spread internet connectivity among the disadvantaged. Purchase terms of acquiring the Moriarty, NM aerospace company with 20 employees were not disclosed.
Not to be outdone by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), which had been talks to purchase Titan, latter announced that it was purchasing Ascenta, a UK-based drone maker that has been building $20 million drones for the military.
Despite early talk Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)'s drone acquisition would be used for enhancing its Google Maps application, the primary revenue generated from drone manufacturing to date indisputably comes from military sales. In this regard, Google appears to be building a growing portfolio of robotic military applications. It had purchased a high profile military robotic company, Boston Dynamics in December. Both of these organizations can sell to the US Military, where Google might have an existing relationship. As a company that provides information to the National Security Agency (NSA) on its users, both Google and Facebook could be in a position to leverage their national security relationships. Amazon.com, which recently purchased the Washington Post, has a multi-million contract with the CIA, having recently bested IBM in a technical shootout.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), as might be expected, didn’t mention the military applications of its acquisition. In the report the company said Titan will work closely with Google’s Project Loon, building high-altitude balloons that send internet signals to areas of the world currently not online. The cost benefit analysis of engaging in such a noble effort was not disclosed. Google may also integrate Titan with Makani, another of Google’s early stage acquisitions that develops airborne wind turbines for energy production.
Titan expects to have commercial operations fully developed by 2015. The company’s dragonfly-shaped drones, with a wingspan nearly as large as a Boeing 767, use batteries and solar panels and can operate at night.