TECH
01/02/2016 12:31 GMT | Updated 01/02/2016 12:59 GMT

Google's Project SkyBender Would Beam 5G Internet From Solar-Powered Drones

Google has started work on a new solar-powered drone which can then beam high-speed internet down to the ground.

google titan

Google's Project Titan solar drone is reportedly being used as a test aircraft.

The Guardian has revealed that the top-secret project is called 'Project Skybender' and is being operated out of Virgin Galactic's Gateway to Space terminal in New Mexico.

project loon

Google's Project Loon balloon hopes to bring internet to two-thirds of the world's population.

Unlike 'Project Loon' which would use high-altitude balloons to deliver regular internet connectivity Google's drone project would specifically focus on delivering 5G internet speeds - many times faster than most broadband connections in the UK.

This gigabyte-connection would allow mobile devices, homes and vehicles to receive data at 40 times the speed that it currently does over 4G.

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The drones would utilise high frequency millimetre waves to send and receive the information, which is a problem. Millimetre waves are nowhere near as congested as the current frequency bands that mobile phones use however they come with the significant disadvantage which is that they have a very short range.

This means that the drones would need to be very high-powered in order to send out a strong enough signal. To compensate for the simple fact that a solar drone can't do this Google is working on a revolutionary technique called phased array.

This would focus the beam towards its destination, preventing widespread degradation of the signal and overcoming the issues with trying to provide coverage for a wide area.

vigin galactic

Google is apparently using Virgin Galactic's spaceport as their base of operations for Project SkyBender.

According to the Guardian, emails have revealed that Google has free use of Virgin Galactic's runway and even the airspace over a nearby US Military base.

This isn't the first time Google has dabbled in the world of drones, back in October 2015 the company revealed Project Wing - a drone delivery aircraft that could take off vertically and then fly like a conventional aircraft.

This would presumably become then a rival to Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery service which has already set the ambitious target of delivering most of its parcels from depot to front door in just 30 minutes.