Google buys flying drones

August 9, 2010: 11:29 AM ET

Is this a toy for Andy Rubin or a replacement for Google's Streetview mapping fleet?

Update: Jeff Jarvis says on Twitter and the comments that it is indeed an executive buying stuff.

News out of Germany over the weekend had Google (GOOG) buying at least one md4-1000 drone aircraft from Microdrones GmbH.   The remote controlled aircraft can carry any payload weighting up to 1.2 kilograms and can fly as high as one kilometer.  That's plenty of room for a camera, a GPS and a small computer which could supplant Google's fleet of Streetview cars.  In fact, a 130 gram Nexus One with a 32GB SD card would seem to sufficient for the purposes of basic mapping.

Microdrone CEO Sven Juerss, told Wirtschafts Woche (English translation) that his company hopes to deliver dozens more drones to Google soon.

"The UAVs are well suited to provide timely recording of the map service Google Earth," says Juerss. Civilian UAVs are unmanned flying vehicles with a range of several thousand meters, which can fly at a speed of up to 80 kilometers per hour.  The aircraft can fully automatically image whole neighborhoods.

I think it is way too early to speculate on Google's use for these vehicles.  Juerss also mentions that Google could use these to do something as innocuous as monitor their wind farms.  Or maybe it isn't business related?

We know that Android-head Andy Rubin has a love for remote controlled aircraft. Perhaps he's just following Mark Hurd and putting his passion on his expense account.

See video below of the Microdrone in action:

It would certainly be more useful than this Nexus One's trip into near orbit:

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Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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