Google announced that it has acquired Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash.
Skybox is a Mountain View, California-based private sector satellite maker. Its satellites record and provide access to high-definition video of landscapes and detailed imagery — and Google hopes to use them keep its Maps application up to date.
Google also said it plans to eventually use the satellites to help improve Internet access and disaster relief, areas the company said it has long been interested.
Another area where Google could use the Skybox tech is data analysis. Skybox offers analytics services based on data gleaned from the aggregation of thousands of its image collections.
But the acquisition clearly shows Google's intention to gain a strong footing in the sky. The Internet giant recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a company that makes high-flying, high-altitude solar atmospheric satellites. Combing the muscle of the two companies might be part of Google's larger mission to use unmanned machines to work primarily for Google Maps, Earth, or other projects that require the collection of aerial images.
Then again, a hint in the Skybox blog suggests self-driving cars could also be part of the acquisition equation:
"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."