GOOGLE HAS ANNOUNCED that satellite imaging firm Skybox has become its latest acquisition.
Google revealed on Tuesday that it has picked up Skybox, a firm that specialises in high-resolution satellite imagery, for $500m. The firm said the buyout will help improve Google Maps with up-to-date images and high-resolution photos, but it also has larger ambitions.
Google added that it hopes Skybox will also give it the ability to build its own fleet of satellites, which the firm hopes ultimately will be able to help improve internet access in areas lacking connectivity, and help with disaster relief.
Google said in a statement, "Skybox's satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief - areas Google has long been interested in."
Skybox seemed a little more excited than Google about the buy, saying in a post on its website, "The time is right to join a company who can challenge us to think even bigger and bolder, and who can support us in accelerating our ambitious vision
"Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code. We both believe in making information (especially accurate geospatial information) accessible and useful. And to do this, we’re both willing to tackle problems head on - whether it's building cars that drive themselves or designing our own satellites from scratch."
News of Google's latest buyout comes just days after rumours suggested that the firm was about to throw $1bn at a fleet of satellites to extend internet access around the globe - although it's unclear if this is related to the Skybox acqusition.
Even so, it seems that Google is taking the mission of getting everyone in the world online seriously. The firm recently acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace likely in order to improve global connectivity, and its Project Loon initiative also looks to get the whole world connected.
It's unclear when Google's Skybox acquisition will close, but it is first subject to regulatory approvals in the US. Skybox will continue to operate as a standalone company until the deal closes. µ