By Sarah E. Needleman
Alphabet Inc. said it shut an effort to beam internet service from highflying drones, part of a number of moves by the Google parent to rein in less-promising initiatives and focus on those more likely to produce profit.
The drone project, called Titan, was folded in early 2016, though Google confirmed the move only this week.
A spokeswoman Thursday said X, Alphabet's unit that pursues moonshot initiatives, is still working on delivering internet access to remote parts of the world through Project Loon, which uses high-altitude balloons. Some former members of the Titan team are involved with its drone-delivery effort, known as Project Wing, the spokeswoman said.
Other initiatives where Alphabet is scaling back include delivering high-speed internet via fiber-optic cables, robotics and modular smartphones. Google also is in talks to sell its satellite business to startup Planet Labs Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
Alphabet determined that folding Titan into other initiatives such as Project Loon would be a more economically and technically feasible way to extend internet access, the spokeswoman said.
"Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other highflying projects," she said.
Technology news site 9to5Google reported Wednesday on the closure of Titan.
Google acquired Titan in 2014. It didn't disclose how much it paid for the company, which had been developing jet-size drones intended to fly nonstop for years. The New Mexico-based startup had roughly 20 employees who worked under technology-industry veteran Vern Raburn.
Drones are a largely unproven but highly sought-after technology. Facebook Inc. also bid on Titan and, after losing out, paid $20 million for Ascenta, a U.K.-based aerospace company. An Ascenta drone crashed during a test flight in June.
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at email@example.com