The startup has won a $8.7 million defense contract from the government.
Behind the scenes, a group of tech experts has been making software for high-speed communication networks that reach from the ground to space.
Inside Google, the secret project was called “Minkowski.” It will be shown to the public on Monday as a new spinoff called Aalyria.
Google wouldn’t say anything about Aalyria, like how long it’s been working on the technology or how many employees are joining the startup. However, Aalyria said in a news release that its goal is to manage “hyper fast, ultra-secure, and highly complex communications networks that span land, sea, air, near space, and deep space.”
The company says it has a laser communications technology that is “orders of magnitude bigger and faster” than anything else on the market today. Google has used Aalyria’s software platform in several aerospace networking projects.
Alphabet, the company that owns Google, is worried about a slowdown in ad spending and wants to move forward with or stop some of its experimental projects.
Part of that means looking for money from outside sources for some of the projects it has been working on for years.
Businesses like Verily, which works in life sciences, and Waymo, which makes self-driving cars, have raised money from outside investors. Meanwhile, Alphabet has shut down projects like Makani, which was making kites that could generate power, and Loon, which used balloons to send internet signals.
Aalyria said that it has a business deal with the U.S. worth $8.7 million. Unit for Defense Innovation. CEO Chris Taylor is an expert in national security who has run other companies that have worked with the government. He will be in charge of the new company. Taylor’s LinkedIn profile says that he is the CEO of a company that he started in November and is still keeping secret.
Alphabet has been trying to get more lucrative contracts with the government. Earlier this year, the company announced “Google Public Sector,” a new subsidiary aimed at partnerships with the U.S. government, mostly through Google Cloud.
On Aalyria’s board of advisors are several former Google employees and executives, as well as Vint Cerf, who is known as one of the fathers of the web and is Google’s chief internet evangelist.
Google will keep a small share of Aalyria, but it won’t say how much it owns or how much money the company has raised from outside sources. Google said that it gave Aalyria almost a decade’s worth of intellectual property, patents, and physical assets, such as office space, earlier this year.
Aalyria’s light laser technology, which it calls “Tightbeam,” claims to keep data “intact through the atmosphere and weather and offers connectivity where no supporting infrastructure exists.”
The company said that Tightbeam dramatically improves satellite communications, Wi-Fi on planes and ships, and cellular connectivity everywhere.