By Alexei Oreskovic
(Reuters) - Google Inc has acquired solar-powered drone maker Titan Aerospace as the Web search giant ramps up plans to deliver wireless Internet access to remote parts of the world.
Titan Chief Executive Vern Raburn declined to provide information on the price of the deal, which he said closed on Monday morning.
The 20-person company will remain in New Mexico for the foreseeable future, Raburn said, with all employees joining Google.
The deal could further Google's efforts to deliver Internet access to remote regions of the world. Last year Google launched a small network of balloons designed to deliver Internet access over the Southern Hemisphere, dubbed as Project Loon.
"Atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation," Google said in an emailed statement confirming the Titan acquisition.
Google's acquisition of Titan comes several weeks after rival Facebook Inc announced plans to build solar-powered drones and satellites capable of beaming Internet access to underdeveloped parts of the world. A few weeks before Facebook's announcement, press reports said that Facebook was in discussions to acquire Titan.
Titan is developing a variety of solar-powered "atmospheric satellites," according to the company's website, with initial commercial operations slated for 2015. The drones, which fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet and can remain aloft for up to five years and have a 165-foot (50-metre) wingspan, slightly shorter than that of a Boeing 777.
News of the acquisition was first reported on Monday by the Wall Street Journal.
(Reporting By Lehar Maan in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Andrew Hay)