Alphabet closed its unit investigating the viability of delivering internet connectivity from drones – known as Project Titan – and will now focus on developing its balloon-based system Loon.
News of the project’s demise was first revealed yesterday by 9to5Google, which reported the 50 staff members working on Titan were redeployed to other departments of the company’s X development arm.
Alphabet’s hopes to provide internet connectivity to rural and remote areas now look to heavily rest with Project Loon, which uses high-altitude balloons to transmit signals. In a statement to 9to5Google the company said one of the reasons for closing Titan is the “economics and technical feasibility of Loon present a much more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world.”
During 2015, Google invested heavily in SpaceX – a company with ambitions to provide worldwide high-speed internet access from satellites. Alphabet shuttered Titan in early 2016.
Rival Facebook is pressing on with its drone connectivity system, Aquila. Reports in October stated Facebook was in talks with a number of countries to trial the drone system, with demonstrations tentatively scheduled for 2018.
Facebook reported it performed its first successful trial flight in Arizona during June. However, news later emerged a US safety agency was investigating an accident during the trial which resulted in “substantial” damage.