Tech

Google Parent Pulls Plug On Internet Drone Project Skybender, Shifts Focus On Internet Balloon Project Loon

By Edge Ison , Jan 13, 2017 03:37 AM EST
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Alphabet, Google's parent company, has decided to pull the plug on Project Skybender after years of trying to get it off the ground.

The Project Skybender is actually under X, a division of Alphabet. The project was supposed to develop solar-powered drones that will provide internet connection to places that have no or weak internet connection.

The program started out as Titan Aerospace, a company that developed drones and was the subject of a tug-of-war between Google and Facebook. The former won and acquired Titan in 2014 which was then re-branded as X and made part of Project Wing in 2015 after the Google separation that bore Alphabet.

According to Business Insider, members of the program, many of whom were part of Titan, have been re-assigned to another project with the same ambitions.

They are now part of Project Loon, a program that will use balloons to improve internet service all over the world. Project Loon will feature a "network of balloons" that will travel along the edge of space which is somewhere above the flight path of planes. The smart balloons will rely on weather satellites and other factors to keep themselves from flying off into space.

So far Project Balloon has made test flights that would total more than 17 million kilometers of travel. The longest test flight lasted for 187 days in the stratosphere. As for the internet connection, it is attained through data transmission from telecommunication partners on the ground to the nearest balloons in the air. Tests have revealed that the balloons are capable of transmitting data even with 100 kilometers between them. They have also provided internet connection speeds of up to 10 Mbps back to earth and directly to LTE handsets.

This bit of news actually came late. Project Skybender has been shelved since early 2016 during which Google was busy developing and releasing a number of hardware and other products.

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