Google Skybender Testing Solar Drones Over New Mexico

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Google Skybender

Google wants to provide Internet access to all corners of the Earth, and they bought a drone manufacturer to make that happen. Project Skybender drones are already in the air now.

Skybender is a separate project from Loon, though both fall under the umbrella of Google Access. They are testing these flights over a secluded location in the New Mexico desert. The facility’s nearest neighbor happens to be the White Sands Missile Range, and Google’s drones will be allowed to venture into its airspace as they ramp up their tests. They’ve leased hangar space from Virgin Galactic and set up their own command center to oversee drone operations.

The goal is to get them serving up blazing-fast 5G connections around the globe. Right now, they’re experimenting using two different aircraft. One is a Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft, the other is their own solar-powered Titan drone. When it’s all said and done, there may be thousands of Google drones like these hovering in the atmosphere, turning energy from the sun into border-free gigabit internet access.

Google hoping to use of phased-array antennas and focused beams, but notes that doing so will take a lot more power. They’ll have to find the right balance, then, if they want to keep their Titans in the air and provide fast, rock-solid connections at the same time. How and when we are going to have this service only time will tell.


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