Google and Facebook have been in a proverbial arms race to provide Internet to emerging countries from the sky. Facebook wants to use drones, while Google has been using high-flying balloons. A new report from The Guardian exposes a brand new “SkyBender” project that Google is also working on. Like Facebook, it hopes to launch solar-powered drones that can one day, using advanced “millimetre wave transmissions”, provide super-fast 5G Internet to consumers below.
The Guardian said Google has been testing the SkyBender drones in New Mexico at the Spaceport America facility where it’s currently renting 15,000 square feet of space from Virgin Galactic.
The news outlet explained that SkyBender is part of the same division within Google that has been working to develop the Project Loon balloons. It seems possible that Google wants to test both methods to see which one works better, but The Guardian noted that Google’s lease runs up in July, so it needs to move quick.
Little else is known about the project at this point, such as if and when Google plans to commercialize the drones. It is clear that that drone technology will be a large part of business plans moving forward. Amazon, for example, has been testing its own (much smaller) drones for on-demand package deliveries.