Rural internet project Loon and delivery drone project Wing were moonshot today and will become independent companies.
Rural internet project Loon and delivery drone project Wing were moonshot today and will become independent companies.

Image: Getty Images/Blend Images

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is letting two of its pet projects fly free.

The company announced today in a Medium post  that its internet-delivery balloon project Loon and delivery drone project Wing will become independent companies.

Both Loon and Wing will “graduate” from Alphabet’s secretive research subsidiary dubbed “X.” The skunkworks laboratory is known for nurturing experimental projects that work toward solving big problems, all with the aim of launching those projects as full-fledged independent businesses. They are often referred to as “moonshot” projects.

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The lab has already produced several independent companies that exist under the Alphabet corporate umbrella including Waymo, Chronicle, and Verily.

“Now that the foundational technology for these projects is built, Loon and Wing are ready to take their products into the world; this is work best done outside of the prototyping-focused environment of X,” said X CEO Astro Teller in the announcement.

Loon plans to bring high-speed internet to about half the world that still doesn’t have it by deploying balloons to the edge of space to increase the area of where signals reach.

Wing aims to create the next generation of delivery drones that can travel almost anywhere. It has already been testing its delivery service, which travels on a predetermined route to avoid collisions, in the Australian capital Canberra.

Although these companies now have the boasting rights of graduating from Alphabet’s prestigious innovation lab, the two newly independent startups will basically continue doing the same work as before (though without the incubator label as a crutch).

It’ll be interesting to see where Wing and Loon go next, since X has moonshot around a dozen projects that have had varying degrees of success. X has launched key Google functions like Google Brain, the tech giant’s deep learning research, though it is also responsible for releasing Project Tango, which has folded since its 2014 launch.

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