Google buys drone maker Titan Aerospace before Facebook does

Google has bought Titan Aerospace. That's the same high-altitude drone manufacturer that Facebook was reportedly set to acquire last month.

The Wall Street Journal has claimed that Google wants to boost its aerial technology. The company has therefore allegedly acquired Titan Aerospace, though a purchase price has not been disclosed. The report further claimed that Titan and its staff of 20 employees will stay in New Mexico, and Vern Raburn, chief executive officer, will continue to run the business.

Interestingly, news broke in early March about Facebook gearing up to acquire Titan Aerospace. TechCrunch reported that Facebook planned to build 11,000 Solara 60 drones in order to offer internet access in Africa, initially. The drones would be "atmospheric satellites" for monitoring weather, assisting in disaster recovery, and offering communications.

Facebook's rumoured acquisition was meant to fuel a plan that would rival Google's Project Loon, which aims to offer connectivity via air balloons. Additionally, Facebook likely wanted to better connect Africa so its newly acquired WhatsApp service could get a head start there. Currently, Africans text regularly, even for check-ups with the doctor.

READ: Facebook wants to let 11,000 drones loose after buying Titan Aerospace

Google however has grabbed Titan first. The Wall Street Journal said the Titan team will now work closely with Google's Project Loon, helping to build large, high-altitude balloons that send internet signals to the offline world. The team might also work with Google's Makani project, developing airborne wind turbines for energy efficiency.

Titan's drones can collect real-time, high-resolution images of the Earth. They also feature atmospheric sensors and support voice and data services. That means Google could use them in its Maps offering, too. Titan is even developing battery-charged drones that can work at night, meaning Google's possibilities with Titan seem endless at this point.