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Thursday, January 12, 2017
Alphabet To Shut Down Titan Drone Internet Project

Google parent Alphabet is planning to shut down its X research lab, which would use high-altitude, solar-powered drones to offer internet connectivity to remote places around the world.

In 2014, Google and Facebook vied to acquire Titan Aerospace, a maker of high-altitude, solar-powered drones. Google won the bidding, so Facebook purchased its own company, which was building a huge glider called Aquila.

The idea was to beam internet access from the sky to get more people logging on from remote places to access information and probably use both companies' web services. That soaring vision has come down to Earth with a bump.

The team from Titan was brought into X in late 2015, and the research lab ended its exploration of high-altitude drones for internet access shortly after.

Alphabet canceled Titan because of economic and technical challenges. Project Loon, another X project to beam internet from high-altitude balloons, is still going. So is Project Wing, an effort to use drones for deliveries, rather than internet service.

Facebook has also struggled. Its Aquila drone crashed during a test flight in June, sparking an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

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