London - Google has bought a company that develops military-style drones in a controversial £36-million deal.
Titan Aerospace makes unmanned aircraft that run on solar power and can remain airborne for five years at a time.
Google claims the technology will provide internet access to remote corners of the world. But the move has provoked privacy concerns over the internet search giant’s ability to snoop on people from great heights. The drones fly at 65 000ft – almost twice as high as passenger planes.
Because the machines are solar-powered and always above the clouds they do not need to land to refuel, so the drones are able to cover up to 3 million miles before needing to land for maintenance.
However, critics have raised fears over the company’s newly-acquired powers of mass global surveillance. Titan is the merely the latest addition to its growing arsenal of robotics firms, and Google is highly secretive about its technological ambitions – all of its projects are run by a closely-guarded division mysteriously called ‘Google X’.
Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The regulation of drones is something that urgently needs addressing. Given Google’s track record is littered with overstepping the line and infringing people’s privacy, combining their hunger for data with drone technology is a mind boggling proposition.” - Daily Mail