Google Steps Closer to Robot Overlord Status with Skybox Purchase

Internet search giant Google took another step closer to becoming our robot overlord on Tuesday with the US$500 million purchase of Skybox Imaging. Google plans to use Skybox's satellite network to improve its own Google Maps service.

Google is watching over you thanks to its Skybox purchaseGoogle is watching over you thanks to its Skybox purchase

"Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery," Google said in a statement. "Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in."

The Skybox satellites offer ground-level resolution down to 1 meter, which will give Google plenty of detail to include in its maps. The company also uses cars for eye-level images and has been offering satellite-based views for some time.

The fact that Google is about to own Skybox -- the deal must still pass through routine regulatory approval -- most likely won't sit well with everyone considering the company already knows so much about our personal lives. Along with using its Maps service to know where we're going, Google also sifts through the contents of our Gmail accounts, tracks our Web browsing and search activity, and offers broadband Internet service, making the idea that the company has its own eyes in orbit to track us from above just a little uncomfortable.

Despite the ominous notion that Google can now watch us from orbit, the purchase will give the company a leg up in the mobile mapping and navigation game because it's satellite images can be more up to date than competitors.

Google hasn't said when it expects to complete the Skybox Imaging purchase.

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]