Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has reportedly pulled the plug on one of the company’s most futuristic projects – the one that aims to use drones to provide internet access particularly in developing countries in Africa and elsewhere, particularly places where it’s often expensive to build cellular towers or lay down physical Internet cabling.
According to media report, Alphabet is scaling back its ambitions for Internet by drone. It has disbanded the team that had been developing the technology. Washington Post reported that dozens of employees in the group, known as Titan, have been reassigned to work on other projects. They include Project Wing, Alphabet’s effort to develop a drone delivery service, and Project Loon, which seeks to deliver Internet around the world via floating balloons. That project is still going strong, Alphabet says.
Many of the Titan workers came from drone maker Titan Aerospace, which Google purchased in 2014. Titan was folded into X, Alphabet’s moonshot lab, in late 2015.
“We ended our exploration of high altitude UAVs for internet access shortly after,” an X spokesman said in a statement. “… at this stage the economics and technical feasibility of Project Loon present a much more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world.”
The news is a setback to highflying visions of ubiquitous broadband access. Now the task falls to Project Loon to fulfill Alphabet’s dreams of blanketing the earth with Internet.