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Wireless/satellite

Google Working With FAA on US Drone License

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:


Want to know more about mobile broadband? Check out our dedicated channel here on Light Reading.


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

DanJones 9/16/2014 | 3:47:53 PM
Re: Who will be first? I think the timelines being presented for driverless cars are optimistic at best. Or at least where they'll be able to operate in that mode will be tiny areas in the US in 5 years time or so. Expanding driverless across the US is a massive undertaking and there 'll be people asking why we need them, should we spend the money, or shouldn't we spend it on expanding public transport instead?

 

Drone take-up in the US will likely be held back back by the FAA dragging its feet. 
danielcawrey 9/16/2014 | 3:40:47 PM
Re: Who will be first? I think drones are interesting – a great new industry that is being developed in the Silicon Valley area. Bitcoin, driverless cars, 3D printing and drones – all a part of a growing technology hub. 
DanJones 9/15/2014 | 2:44:29 PM
Re: Who will be first? Facebook's drone work appears to be based in London for now. Which of course doesn't preclude Google from testing these solar drones outside the US either.

I guess the eventual aim is to get permission in the US though.
jburton 9/15/2014 | 1:40:08 PM
Re: Who will be first? A:  Whichever one does not rely upon the FAA (i.e. does it abroad).

If you ask which will be first in the U.S., that is anyone's guess.

For a glimpse into the FAA hard at work, I suggest:

http://www.avweb.com/news/features/Why-the-Part-23-Rewrite-Delay-Matters222757-1.html

The FAA cannot meet deadlines even when mandated to do so by law.
DanJones 9/15/2014 | 1:33:28 PM
Who will be first? So who will be first to get commercial drones up? Amazon, Facebook or Google?
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