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Google’s potentially disruptive drones

Last week in Vanuatu, a whole bunch of satellite providers and one builder of undersea cables were asked by Dean Bubley of Disruptive Innovations whether they had any thoughts on the potential disruptions posed by the various tech solutions to Internet connectivity being bruited about. They were not worried in one voice.

Perhaps the news yesterday that Google had bought a drone company made them rethink their response. Here’s what is on the horizon:

First of all, they’re autonomous robots that are nearly the size of a commercial jet that can stay aloft for five years running on solar power. Think about that. Some 3,000 photovoltaic cells on the drones’ 50-foot wingspan fuels the motor and charges up the batteries to power the drones at night.

Titan’s flagship products, Solara 50 and Solara 60, will be the first commercially manufactured long-endurance solar drones, and will be commercially available next year, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story.

Also worth noting, these drones fly really high up, at almost low-orbit heights, between 60,000 and 70,000 feet above the ground. They’re known as “atmospheric satellites” and can do most anything an orbital satellite can do, only cheaper—so it’s not hard to imagine why Google and Facebook are eager to get their hands on the technology.

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