Google appears to be staffing up its recently acquired Titan Aerospace solar drone operation as it works to get a license from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to test the massive unmanned aircraft in the US.
The search giant is currently advertising for 10 positions at the facility in Moriarty, N.M.
These positions include engineers, a technical writer and an "FAA Quality Assurance" program manager. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) says in the ads that it is "working with the FAA to obtain permission to use airspace for flight testing within the National Airspace System and Special Airworthiness Certification for its aircraft."
Google has so far carried out its drone and "Project Loon" balloon testing outside the US. Most recently, it revealed that it has been testing "Project Wing" delivery drone prototypes in Australia. (See Now Google Planning Drones-to-Go.)
The Titan Aerospace drones, however, are nothing like the tiny delivery drones. They can be huge, solar-powered crafts intended to fly high and stay in the air for years without refueling. They are touted as a way to provide Internet connectivity for hard-to-wire areas, amongst other applications. (See Google Plans Web of Satellites – Report.)
Here's a video Titan Aerospace posted of its Solara 50 drone before it was acquired by Google:
Google isn't the only Silicon Valley star interested in using solar drones to provide Internet from the sky. Facebook bought British drone startup Ascenta in March for "Internet to everyone" applications.
The FAA, meanwhile, has been asked by Congress to come up with a plan by September 15, 2015, for safe integration of commercial drones into US airspace. It has said that it intends to publish its first ruling on small commercial drones this year and will take a phased approach to bringing commercial drones to American airspace.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading