Why there is no business like drone business


Google’s latest buyout is one of its most futuristic yet – it has put pen to paper and spent a ton of money on drone specialists Titan Aerospace.

Where drones used to be consigned to secretive military procedures and  the pages on science fiction books, everyday use of unmanned vehicles looks soon to be a reality.

This is because the biggest technology companies in the world are securing their future by buying, well, futuristic-sounding tech.

Google isn’t the first, either. Amazon announced back in December last year that it was looking into using drones to carry products to houses in America. It all sounded a little like a publicity stunt at the time but it proves that drones are now part of everyday thinking for the biggest names in tech.

Google hasn’t given a whole lot away as to what it will use its drones for, but it does seem likely that they will be part of its idea to bring the internet to places that simply don’t have it.

The original idea was to use balloons to carry Wi-Fi signals to far reaching areas of the world. This went under the brilliant and rather apt title: Project Loon.

Droning on

Google said in a press release on its acquisition of Titan Aerospace that both companies “share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world.” It also noted that: “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.”

Given that Google fought off Facebook for this drone company it would have been interesting to see if the social network would have used the drones in such a way, or if they would just become new toys for Mark Zuckerberg to play with.

When it comes to everyday drone use, we are still a long way of seeing our sky littered with these things but it’s going to happen. Drones, if tech companies have their way, will deliver our shopping, feed us Wi-Fi and, well, the sky really is the limit.

A few things have to change first, though. There was a recent news article about a triathlete hit in the head with a drone when he was taking part in the Endure Batavia Triathlon in Australia. This was because the operator lost control. This is an isolated incident but one that highlights an inherent problem with drones: if they go wrong, they can dangerously go wrong.

It’s the same with self-driving cars, humans aren’t quite ready to put our lives in the hands of robots just yet. But when it comes to boring things like shopping, that’s another matter entirely…

Marc Chacksfield is the deputy editor of TechRadar.com, the UK’s biggest technology website.