Google’s Project Loon has got off to a great start with one of its hot air balloons managing to circumnavigate the globe in a mere 22 days.
The firm announced the success of its balloon in a Google+ post, with the Project Loon team commenting that it was a particularly difficult task to navigate a balloon at this time of year. This was due to the wind changing directions quite often while flying through the stratosphere.
Google had been using computer simulations to try and predict the conditions that its balloon was likely to encounter, but this was only ever going to get the team so far. Therefore, Loon’s members had to simply see how things panned out once the balloon was in the air.
This is why the project team had undertaken a number of test flights that allowed them to collect data on wind patterns, which helped them to refine their computer prediction models. It is to this action that they attribute the success of their balloon flight.
Google has said that its computer prediction models are now good enough to forecast conditions for balloon flights twice as far into the future as was once previously possible. Its research has also enabled the company to improve its balloon designs for more efficient flight times.
Project Loon balloons are set to be used as a way of beaming internet access to places like Africa and South East Asia, where broadband is scarce.
The new long-haul designs could also be adapted for journeys across open spaces closer to home, such as for hot air balloon flights in South Wales.