Google is known for putting its resources into some novel technologies like self-driving cars and wearable computing devices. Now, the Internet giant is moving into yet another field — wind power.
After previously investing in the company, Google has agreed to acquire California-based green energy startup Makani Power. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Makani, which takes its name from the Hawaiian word for breeze, develops airborne wind turbines that are mounted on self-piloting flying wings tethered to the ground like a kite. Google will bring the Makani team into its secret "moonshot" research lab Google X, which produced Google Glass.
"This formalizes a long and productive relationship between our two companies, and will provide Makani with the resources to accelerate our work to make wind energy cost competitive with fossil fuels. We look forward to working with our new colleagues at Google ... to make airborne wind a cost-effective reality," Makani wrote on Thursday on its website.
The deal was first reported in a Bloomberg Businesseek story about Google X.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Google confirmed the acquisition and said it's eager to bring Makani on board.
"Creating clean energy is one of the most pressing issues facing the world, and Google for years has been interested in helping to solve this problem," Google X Director Astro Teller, said. "Makani Power's technology has opened the door to a radical new approach to wind energy. They've turned a technology that today involves hundreds of tons of steel and precious open space into a problem that can be solved with really intelligent software. We're looking forward to bringing them into Google[x]."
Makani said the timing of the acquisition "couldn't be better" since its so-called Wing 7 kite-power prototype just completed its first ever fully autonomous flight. The startup has said its wing-shaped high-altitude kite design can produce 10 times more energy than conventional turbines.
Back in 2006, Google invested $10 million (£6.6 million) in Makani and followed that up with another $5 million (£3.3 million) in 2008. Those investments were reportedly motivated by Makani's claim to be able to produce wind-generated power at a lower cost than coal power plants.
For a look at Makani's airborne wind turbines in action, check out the video above.