The race to use drones is the latest gold rush to consume our technology giants. One by one the main players are scooping up drone making firms, coming up with drone master plans and picking up the drone scent where others have left off.
The latest player in the ring is “Jonny big bucks” Google. The internet’s biggest kahuna has acquired Titan Airspace, a firm which creates high-altitude flying robots (adding yet more robots to Google’s fleet, following its purchase of Boston Dynamics at the end of last year). Facebook had been sniffing around Titan at the start of March before it went with UK-based drone maker Ascenta.
Both tech companies are keen to spread the internet to far-flung corners of the globe. Titan’s high-flying robots are believed to be destined to join Google’s Project Loon (or Project Looney as Bill Gates likes to call it).
Up until this point, Google had been planning to use balloons to spread internet connectivity from the edge if the atmosphere but it looks like it has come round to Facebook’s point of view that drones are the best method.
But both Google and Facebook were late to the game. Amazon was the first internet giant to start shouting about drones. At the start of December the online bazaar said it would create a fleet of drones to deliver its packages to shoppers.
Many dismissed it as nonsense but Amazon boss Jeff Bezos confirmed he is serious about his drone plan in a recent shareholder letter:
“The Prime Air team is already flight testing our 5th and 6th generation aerial vehicles,” Bezos wrote. “We are in the design phase on generations 7 and 8.” Keen as mustard.
But who will get there first? Well, Ladbrokes is putting its odd on for Google. The bookies has started taking bets and Google is the favourite as 4 / 5. Facebook has become rank outsider with 3/1 odds (ouch) and Amazon is in there at 2/1.
“Google's latest purchase has seen them displace their rivals in the drone betting. At the moment we favour them to make use of them for mapping and telecoms before Amazon work out how to deliver parcels,” said Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes.
The race is on.