Google has agreed to buy solar-powered drone maker Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed sum, beating Facebook who was also interested in the acquisition.
Google will acquire the 20 person team, based out of New Mexico and headed by former Symantec CEO Vern Raburn. This comes a few weeks after Facebook bought U.K.-based solar-powered drone startup Ascenta for $20 million.
Google said the Titan team will work with closely with Google’s Project Loon, which will send giant air balloons into the sky to transmit Internet signals to areas of the world that are not online.
The team could ask work with Makani, another project of Google’s that will attempt to develop airborne wind turbines that will produce energy more efficiently.
“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,” a Google spokesman said in a statement.
Titan unveiled its drones last year, which are similar to low-orbit satellites and can provide services, such as weather monitoring, disaster recovery, Earth imaging, or communications. The company say that its drones can deliver Internet speeds up to 1 GB per second, using speciality communications equipment.
As the developing world increases its need for better Internet connectivity, both Facebook and Google are racing to be the first to provide services to areas largely cut off from such access.