Alphabet is killing off its solar drone project
It’s one of many moon shots being curtailed
Back in 2014 Google (now Alphabet) bought Titan Aerospace, a company specializing in solar-powered drones that could fly at high altitudes for long periods of time. The goal was to offer internet access to rural areas that lacked connectivity by beaming it down from on high. In that way it was similar to another moon shot, Project Loon, and to Facebook’s Aquila.
Today, however, Alphabet confirmed to Business Insider that it was ending its exploration of solar-powered drones. The news, first reported by 9to5Google, is another in a string of setbacks for X, formerly X Labs, the incubator for wild ideas that has suffered under the strict financial discipline being imposed by Alphabet and its CFO, Ruth Porat. Bloomberg offered a rundown of the high-level departures that have occurred since the creation of Alphabet as a holding company and the separation of X from Google:
“Loon’s Mike Cassidy stepped down as project leader. Around the same time, Urmson, the self-driving car engineer, left Alphabet, as did David Vos, the head of X’s drone effort, Project Wing. Vos’s top deputy, Sean Mullaney, left the company as well. Other recent departures: Craig Barratt, chief executive officer of Access, its telecom division; Bill Maris, the CEO of its venture capital arm, GV; and Tony Fadell, the CEO of smart-thermostat company Nest, who was also working on a reboot of Google Glass. That project, now called Aura, also lost its leads of user design and engineering.” Continue reading about Alphabet and the solar drone project.