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Google’s ‘Project Loon’ broadband balloons successfully trialled

Google’s Project Loon, which plans to seed the world with airborne internet access points, has so far exceeded expectations and apparently can even deal with high winds and blustery conditions.

The search giant’s long term plan, which was detailed by Sundar Pichai at Mobile World Congress, is to have a fleet of balloons and aircraft transmitting broadband to places which haven’t enjoyed sufficient access, with an emphasis on rural areas and disaster zones. Ideally, one balloon should provide a dependable connection for a period before moving off and being replaced by another.

And while it’s still early doors for the project, it looks as though early trials have proved a resounding success. Google has described its latest rounds of Loon testing as “like hitting a hole-in-one in golf from over 4km away,” quite the boast.

Rather than being hampered by high winds, the ‘net-enabled aircraft seem to be using it to their advantage, scudding from one corner of the world to the other within mere days.

In a recent blog post, Google stated: “One of Project Loon’s earliest Eureka moments was the idea that we could provide continuous Internet connection not by keeping balloons stationary over a given location (which would require lots and lots of energy to work against the wind) but by coordinating a fleet of balloons to work with the wind.

“Our balloon completed this second leg of the journey in just eight days, travelling over 1,000km per day and reaching a top speed of 140 km/h while whizzing over the ocean south of Africa. Once at the east coast of Australia the Loon Mission Control team implemented a series of altitude manoeuvres to catch different winds and reverse the balloon path, lining it up to directly overfly our test location.”


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