When Google picked up Titan Aerospace in April 2014, the sky was, as they say, the limit. The high-flying drone producer seemingly had a lot to offer the tech giant, including the potential to expand Project Loon, its balloon-based plan to develop low-cost internet access to remote rural areas.
The UAV maker, which was reportedly also being courted by Facebook around the same time, also had the potential to deliver high quality, real-time imagery to Google Maps and assist with disaster relief, the company said at the time.
In early 2015, Google head Sundar Pichai announced that the company was set to begin its first test flights with Titan late that same year. The division has since moved around a bit under the Google/Alphabet umbrella, eventually winding up in the company’s experimental X division, the department devoted to so-called moonshots.
Now, as 9to5Google notes, the Titan division has been shut down by the company, with its employees being reassigned to different Alphabet teams, including Projects Loon and Wing, a team dedicated to cracking drone-based deliveries.
As far as the decision to shut down Titan is concerned, the company notes that it shifted its exploration of drone-based internet shortly after folding Titan into X, instead opting to shift the project’s focus to the more successful pursuit of Project Loon’s balloon-based internet model.
The company has since confirmed the move with TechCrunch, with an X spokesperson issuing the following statement,
The team from Titan was brought into X in late 2015. We ended our exploration of high altitude UAVs for internet access shortly after. By comparison, 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. Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other high flying projects at X, including Loon and Project Wing.