Scientists involved in Google’s internet-delivering hot air balloons recently announced a breakthrough in their research, which could bring the final product years closer to becoming a reality.
The project – known as Project Loon – is a part of the internet giant’s X research division, under the control of Google’s parent company Alphabet. Loon has been designed to bring internet connectivity to the more remote areas of the planet via unmanned hot air balloons.
The breakthrough has allowed the research team to utilise machine learning to predict weather systems. As a result, those spearheading the project would be able to have more control over where the balloons would go, allowing them to focus on specific areas of the world instead of having them circumnavigate the whole planet.
Experts estimate that around four billion people worldwide are still without any access to the internet, with Google hoping to lower this number by providing access to those located in parts of the world considered the toughest to reach. With this technological breakthrough, the hot air balloons would be able to cluster and focus their attention on these areas, which is set to reduce the cost of the project significantly.
The balloons used as part of this initiative would float in the stratosphere at an altitude of 11 miles and would be the size of a tennis court. Their altitude would be adjustable to enter them in certain weather streams that would help the balloons to change direction.
Google’s hot air balloon adventure is still years away from taking off with many hurdles still in the way, including keeping the balloons afloat for long periods of time.