Whenever a tech giant gobbles up another company, there’s always tons of speculation about what the tech giant has up its sleeves, and how the acquired company’s expertise will find its way into an actual product.
So when Google acquired high-altitude drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace in 2014, the tech world blew up with Google’s big plans of sending Internet drones to space. Those plans became much clearer today, following a Guardian report about another top secret Google project called SkyBender.
But let’s backtrack. To understand SkyBender it is imperative to understand Titan.
Titan has been known for its solar-powered super drones “Solara” which can function as atmospheric satellites. The unmanned aircraft can operate at 65,000ft (20 km) altitude about 50% higher than a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. At this height, the drone operates for up to 5 years independently and uninterrupted by weather patterns.
A single Solara drone uses thousands of solar cells producing enough energy to keep it flying. Each drone is equipped with lots of sensors opening up a range of possible use cases including acting as GPS replacement satellites in case of terror attacks or to produce real-time Google Map images that are always fresh and available on-demand.
More interesting to Google are the drones’ high-speed millimeter wave technology to deliver Internet 40 times faster than 4G/LTE which is even faster than what might become 5G. The problem of millimeter wave technology is its range as it spans only a short distance before fading out creating a unique challenge.
This is where Google’s new secret project “SkyBender” comes in. Project SkyBender could make Google a global Internet provider using Titan’s drone technology together with a new wave-spectrum completely different from today’s clogged cellphone spectrum.
Since last summer several high-tech drones have been built together with a “pilot optional” aircraft called Centaur and are now tested at Spaceport America located in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico.
You might remember Virgin Galactic, the ambitious commercial space travel project of Virgin Airline founder Richard Branson which operates from Spaceport America. Google is currently renting a hanger from Virgin Galactic and pays the Spaceport America a monthly fee.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) licensed the testing of the new millimeter-wave drone-based technology until July 2016. It has yet to be seen where the project will evolve from there.
Before Google, the U.S. military had been testing a similar drone-based technology to provide high-speed connectivity for troops in remote areas.
This isn’t the company’s first foray into providing Internet to remote areas from above. Back in 2013, Google announced its Project Loon initiative that involves sending up hundreds if not thousands of Internet balloons into the stratosphere, bringing Internet to areas that were previously unconnected.
Who doesn’t dream of buffer-free Netflix anywhere on earth?
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How the tech world helped in the Notre Dame fire incident
Modern technology isn’t our foe at all
In light of the recent news about the fire incident that happened in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, several companies, including those from the tech sector, have shown how much they care for the ruined 856-year-old historic landmark.
When the flames broke out, firefighters used Mavic Pro and Matrice M210 drones. The cathedral was severely damaged but thankfully, the drones helped in distinguishing where the fire had spread out. Several tweets show how helpful drones are, even during unexpected disasters like this one.
— Alexandre Fremont (@alex_fremont) April 15, 2019
People from DJI talked about how their drones helped Paris’ Emergency Response Team in determining the fire inside the cathedral.
Learning that Emergency Response for Notre Dame also included the use of drones, made me feel good. Then seeing a female operator made me proud. Both individually are not common, both together even less. Such a difficult incident to deal with, done with exemplary. pic.twitter.com/Qdh3UIwmer
— Romeo Durscher (@romeoch) April 16, 2019
Craftsmen built Notre Dame eight centuries ago. Now it may be up to robots to save it.https://t.co/zyfMU1lEuI
— Brendan Schulman (@dronelaws) April 17, 2019
After the incident, many people, including popular icons all around the globe, have shown their distress about the destruction of the cathedral. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is one among those people. He even promised Apple would help in the progress of rebuilding Notre Dame’s ruined architectural landscape.
We are heartbroken for the French people and those around the world for whom Notre Dame is a symbol of hope. Relieved that everyone is safe. Apple will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame’s precious heritage for future generations.🇫🇷
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 16, 2019
Most gamers can tell that the Notre Dame Cathedral is found in the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Ubisoft, which is also a French company, said that the infrastructure was scanned using their state-of-the-art 3D mapping technology. Using data preserved for the game may help architects and builders in restoring the cathedral. As an addition, the game is for free at the Ubisoft store to honor the fallen landmark.
It may be insignificant for most people but these all prove that companies and their existing technologies can still help in times of global incidents like this.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Review: 1 month in
Not a perfect drone, but…
We won’t bore you with a rundown of its specs, but instead, we’ll give you the lowdown on DJI’s new drone — what works, what doesn’t, and what’s there to love. This is our DJI Mavic 2 Pro review.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro officially launch in the Philippines
The best compact drones in the market right now
Less than a month from its official announcement, DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro have officially arrived in the Philippines through ICT company MSI-ECS. These drones offer the latest technologies seen in a quadcopter and aim to bring aerial videography to new heights.
As a quick recap, both new drones shoot 4K video at up to 100 megabits per second — meaning it can capture high-quality footage. DJI also equipped the Mavic 2 with its own 8GB internal storage in case you forget your memory cards at home. They have more sensors for obstacle avoidance and boast improved battery life (31 minutes versus the older 27 minutes). They’re also a lot quieter than previous models.
The Mavic 2 Zoom is the world’s first foldable consumer drone with optical zoom capabilities. This way, you can get up close to your subject (like wildlife, for example) while maintaining your distance, so you won’t disturb them in their habitat.
It can also perform a dolly zoom by flying backward while zooming in. This produces a vertigo effect that renowned filmmakers use in movies.
On the other hand, the Mavic 2 Pro is the first drone with a camera co-engineered with Hasselblad — a leading brand in medium format photography. It carries a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile which translates to a professional-grade image with a lot of tweaking possibilities during post-production.
The Mavic 2 Pro shoots 20-megapixel photos and 4K UHD videos, has support for 4K 10-bit HDR, and can switch between f/2.8 to f/11 apertures depending on the lighting condition. Think of it as your professional aerial equipment that folds up and can fit inside a small bag.
Pricing in the Philippines will start at PhP 76,300 for the Mavic 2 Zoom and PhP 98,800 for the Mavic 2 Pro. Going for the Fly More bundle which includes extra batteries, propellers, and other accessories will come at an extra cost just like the previous iteration.
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