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Sun, Feb 19, 2017

Alphabet Balloons Learn To Bend The Wind

New Algorithms Allow Project Loon Balloons To Loiter Over Specific Areas

The original concept for Alphabet's Project Loon was to launch a ring of balloons that would sail around the planet bringing Internet service to all the good little boys and girls ... er ... to underserved area where such service was spotty or entirely unavailable. But now, it appears that the goal can be reached with far fewer actual aircraft.

Writing on BlogX, Alphabet's 'Captain of Moonshots" Astro Teller says that newly-developed algorithms can now send much smaller teams of balloons to cluster over a specific area and loiter there, providing much more reliable access to the Internet.

"Although our navigation algorithms can get even better, and we need to test them in many other parts of the world, this is a positive sign for Loon’s economic and operational viability," Teller wrote. "We’ll be able to put together a Loon network over a particular region in weeks not months, and it would be a lot less work to launch and manage. We’ll reduce the number of balloons we need and get greater value out of each one. All of this helps reduce the costs of operating a Loon-powered network, which is good news for the telco partners we’ll work with around the world to make Loon a reality, and critical given that cost has been one key factor keeping reliable Internet from people living in rural and remote regions."

Teller said that during testing last year, some balloons were observed staying of a specific area over Peru for as long as three months. "We repeated the experiments, and saw the same results: we had figured out how to cluster balloons in teams, dancing in small loops on the stratospheric winds, over a particular region," he wrote."

Teller says there is still a lot of work to be done before Project Loon becomes a commercial enterprise, but the Loon team has "persevered and brought the seemingly impossible within reach."

(Images from file)

FMI: BlogX

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