Project Loon will need less balloons with advanced tech, AI

Pablo Tucker
February 17, 2017

For its next trick, an internet-beaming balloon factory that was spun out of Google believes it can outmaneuver the wind.

"We've actually made so much progress", Project Loon engineer Sal Candido said at today's press conference, "that we think our timeline for when we can provide useful internet service to people is much, much sooner". He also says this will help the company get greater value out of each balloon, and increases the chance of the project becoming profitable. As a result, those balloons don't need to be placed in a ring around the world, but rather can be clustered over a more concentrated area that may lack internet access. In an acknowledgement of their lofty goals and risky nature, Alphabet CEO Larry Page calls them "moonshots".

"We've been working to make the balloons smarter; nearly like a game of chess with the winds", Teller said. Loon says that balloons will now make small loops over a land mass, instead of circumnavigating the whole planet. Though more testing needs to be done - and there's still no news on when Project Loon will officially be in use - this method is more cost effective and less work to manage.

"The government as well as Google are lobbying the ITU, but if we fail there's a risk Google will go to another country that is not bound by these rules".

Project Loon now connects Sri Lanka's 21 million people to the web, even those in remote connectivity black spots.

But just a year after testing began in Sri Lanka regulators have been unable to allocate Google a radio frequency for the airborne venture without breaching global regulations.

Since launching in New Zealand in 2013, the balloons have traveled 19 million kilometers, or almost 12 million miles, according to Project Loon.

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