Google Uses Solar-Powered Drones to Deliver the Internet

Google's latest project 'SkyBender' to provide high-speed internet from solar-powered drones.

Flight Control Office, Source: New Mexico Spaceport Authority

Google is using solar-powered drones in a new pilot initiative designed to deliver high-speed internet from the air.

Based at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, the project is called ‘SkyBender’, and according to sources, Google is trying to keep its details a secret.

But reporters have obtained insider information that reveals they have built prototype transceivers on the site, established its own flight control centre, and booked 4572 metres of hangar space to provide a home for its hardware at the cost US$1,000 a day.

Google is using two kinds of aircraft in the test; the Centaur, a hybrid craft that can be flown conventionally or remotely, and the solar-powered Google Titan drone.

The SkyBender technology involves the same kind of system used in developing millimetre wave radio transmission’s capable of sending gigabytes of data 40 times faster than the 4G LTE system.

It is understood that the nature of the testing in New Mexico involves resolving the biggest issue with the millimetre wave transmission technologies – its short range.

To extend the technologies reach, SkyBender is using a method called the ‘phased array’. This technique allows the beams from transmissions to be ‘steered’ and achieve maximum impact.

If successful it would make it the optimum technology for 5G wireless.

Google has a well-documented track record in its experimentation with delivering wireless using high altitude technologies as a platform.

In 2011, the company started testing hot air balloons as a way to provide a wireless network for remote areas through its Google X incubator. The project was known as Project Loon.

So far Google has yet to make an official statement about the SkyBender project.