Tech Talk: Alphabet Wants To Go Airborne, Asks For Secret Tests

If I told you Alphabet had a project centered around trying to search for extraterrestrial life, you'd probably be inclined to believe me. That's not the case, as far as we know, but to say that their projects have exceeded the scope of Google's original vision would be the understatement of the century. Looking to the skies in recent years, we've seen Project Loon poised to deliver internet from miles in the sky, internet-toting drones that would connect people and a drone delivery service, among other skybound projects. Now, it seems, Alphabet wants to conduct some secretive air tests in certain areas.

Frank McLoughlin, who was once an aviation engineer for Garmin, and Paul Husted, a former mobile engineer at Qualcomm, are listed as primary staff on the testing papers. In these tests, an aircraft is purported to fly at about 25,000 feet, well below the roughly 60,000 used by Alphabet's Loon and Titan projects. According to the requisite paperwork, Alphabet plans to "expeditiously test radios in a way that is likely to contribute to the development, extension, expansion, or utilization of the radio art." The proposed test involves using the 2.5Ghz radio band to send signals to ground towers from the aircraft, but not much else is said. Interestingly, the test is supposed to not be flight-related, ruling out any kind of flight control or remote flight activities. It has not been stated whether the aircraft involved will be manned or unmanned. In any case, blasting radio waves from 25,000 feet with the help of a mobile technician from one of the biggest smart device chip makers in the game is, to be sure, a distinctly Google move and smacks of 5G preparation, but without more information, all we have to go off of for now are guesses.

If the necessary licenses are granted, testing is set to take place in an Oregon Indian reservation that plays host to a couple of cell towers and a New Mexico spaceport that they'll be sharing with the likes of Virgin. In the filings, tests were expected to start in August of this year and run until February of 2016. Obviously, the dates given are tentative and will be amended if and when the filings are revised or granted. Be sure to keep an eye on the sky if you're interested in what Alphabet is up to. They're awfully busy up there lately.

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