After announcing their plans to research on high-altitude drones three years ago, Google has decided to suspend its solar-powered drone program. Google inherited the project after acquiring Titan Aerospace several years ago.
An employee from X, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said that the cancellation happened in early 2016. The employee said that X will focus its attention on developing high-altitude balloons to help make internet accessible to remote areas, and on developing a drone delivery service. Loon and Project Wing had been researched in the past, so it is not surprising that X is turning their attention to these projects.
Jacquelyn Miller, the X Communications Manager, said that while the company still wants to develop technology to introduce alternate forms of internet access, the decision to stop researching high-altitude drones was due to reorganization issues after Alphabet was established.
Project Loon, the high-altitude balloon development project, has been said to be much more likely to yield positive results in linking rural areas to the internet. Despite Google’s decision to stop pursuing high-altitude drone technology, Facebook is still conducting its own research with its Aquila drone. Its initial test flight was disastrous, as it crashed due to internal failures, but Facebook is still looking into progressing.
The social media giant has been rumored to be interested in Titan Aerospace prior to Google’s acquisition in 2014. Facebook ended up purchasing Ascenta, a British company that has a history of working on solar-powered drones.