Google has acquired solar-powered drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed fee, as the web giant plans to use the technology to bring wireless internet to some of the world's remotest areas.
It's thought that Facebook was also interested in making the deal - the social network had been in talks with Titan Aerospace earlier this year - but Google has apparently made a more attractive offer for the firm.
The New Mexico-based drone maker was founded in 2012 and has around 20 employees. It currently produces two types of solar-powered high altitude drones that are capable of flying for years at a time without the need to stop. As a result, the technology is able to beam wireless networking capabilities to the ground, providing internet in areas too remote for traditional online access.
"We're thrilled to announce that Titan Aerospace is joining Google," said a statement about the deal on the Titan Aerospace website. The firm believes its technology, and in particular its atmospheric satellites, have the potential to improve people's lives.
"It's still early days for the technology we're developing, and there are a lot of ways that we think we could help people, whether it's providing internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation," the statement read.
"That's why we couldn't be more excited to learn from and work with our new colleagues as we continue our research, testing and design work as part of the Google family."
Google said the technology could be used to bring internet access to millions who don't currently have it and could help with projects in remote areas of the world.
"It's still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation," the firm said in a statement.
Google is increasingly moving its interests towards robotic and drone technology. Indeed, last year the web firm bought eight robotics firms including "dynamic" robot manufacturer Boston Dynamics.
Another area Google is investing in is wearable technology. The Google Glass scheme is currently limited to those handpicked to be involved, but tomorrow for one day only, anyone in the US will be able to purchase the wearable computer.
Google has announced updates to Glass ahead of its one day launch. Most significantly, they include an upgrade to the device's software to Android KitKat, a move Google says "brings improved battery life and makes Glass more reliable and easier to update in the future".
The web firm has also revealed that video calling will be removed from the device - at least for now - because fewer than 10 per cent of those using Google Glass actually use this function.
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