An experimental Wing drone takes flight in California. (Alphabet / Wing Photo)
Two of Google’s best-known flights of fancy, Project Loon and Project Wing, are being hatched from their X incubator to become independent businesses under the wing of Alphabet, Google’s holding company.
Loon will work with mobile network operators globally to bring internet access to a market of billions of people currently without high-speed connections.
Meanwhile, Wing is developing a drone delivery system as well as an air traffic management platform to route robotic drones safely through the skies.
Astro Teller, the “Captain of Moonshots” at X, announced the switchover today in a Medium post:
“Today, unlike when they started as X projects, Loon and Wing seem a long way from crazy — and thanks to their years of hard work and relentless testing in the real world, they’re now graduating from X to become two new independent businesses within Alphabet: Loon and Wing.”
Teller said Alastair Westgarth has been named Loon’s CEO, while James Ryan Burgess is the CEO of Wing in partnership with Adam Woodworth, Wing’s chief technology officer.
Loon and Wing are taking their place alongside X’s other “graduates,” including the cybersecurity company Chronicle, the self-driving car company Waymo and Verily Life Sciences.
Both of the newly graduated ventures already have had turns in the spotlight: Loon’s radio-equipped balloons played a role in reconnecting areas of Puerto Rico to mobile networks last fall after Hurricane Maria hit. Wing has been testing its drones in a variety of locales, and will participate in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s pilot program for cutting-edge drone applications.
But both ventures also face formidable competitors.
Loon’s concept for aerial internet access could clash with plans being laid by SpaceX and OneWeb for satellite internet access from low …read more