Google is planning to begin testing drones in a virtually uninhabited area of New Mexico in pursuit of providing internet connectivity to remote areas or monitoring environmental damage.
In a heavily redacted, secret-crammed application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
, Google states, "Google recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems for high altitude, long endurance flights. These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation."
If Google receives approval to use two sets of frequencies for its tests, the solar-powered drones, capable of flying for up to five uninterrupted years, will soar above the New Mexico desert, over the sparsely populated Stanley area, for 180 days beginning in October, Ars Technica
Google wants to use two broadcast bands, one between 910 MHz and 927 MHz and another between 2.4 GHz and 2.414 GHz, for the testing, which are "industrial, scientific and medical" (ISM) bands typically used for unlicensed operations, Ars Technica reports.
The project was developed at Google X, the top-secret California lab where Google has been researching cutting-edge technologies such as Google Glass, self-driving cars, high-altitude balloon use for internet access and even Project Wing, a drone-based product delivery system which is under development partially by borrowed MIT scientists.
Dr. Nicholas Roy, a researcher in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), is involved in developing the project, in which a module called the "egg," attached to a drone, contains a winch that can lower products to the ground from a drone, MIT News
"By no means have we fully solved problems like avoiding obstacles or navigating in urban environments," Roy told the MIT News Office.
"However, we've shown that the potential is there and that this sort of technology is not as far off as many people might think."
Google's eyes are turned toward the skies. Last year the company unveiled Project Loon, which can use balloons 65,000 feet in the air to project a WiFi or an LTE cellular transmission, and already has tested it in Nevada, Computer World
Google states in its application that much of it is redacted because "the technology under development is highly sensitive and confidential in nature," CITE World
reports, and still needs approval for the test flights from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
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