We’ve talked quite a bit about Google’s balloon powered internet project, known as Project Loon, recently. The initiative is attempting to put balloons up in the sky on an orbit around the Earth which will hopefully be able top broadcast internet to the people below. New batteries, balloons and other wireless tech have all been put to the test by Google in an attempt to get Project Loon off the ground.
A recent announcement from the company shows that the balloons themselves are almost ready – Google claims that now the devices can stay up and floating for around 100 days before they have to come down for maintenance. Google have also said that multiple devices can be launched in a single day, and the balloons themselves can now be mass produced at a heightened rate – a Loon balloon is able to be assembled in hours according to the new press release.
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“At first it would take us 3 or 4 days to tape together a balloon,” said Google’s chief Loon engineer Mike Cassidy said in a recently released video. “Today, through our own manufacturing facility, the automated systems can get a balloon produced in just a few hours. We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons.”
“In the beginning, it was all we could do to launch one balloon a day. Now with our automated crane system, we can launch dozens of balloons a day for every crane we have,”
In order for the stratospheric network to be able to be used by internet surfers, an LTE network on the ground must get on board with Project Loon. The balloons themselves transmit all the signals and provide the framework, but in order for people to connect to them a LTE network needs to be used. In Australia, where tests have been undertaken recently, the Telstra network are to man radio stations to communicate with the balloons and provide access to radio frequencies necessary for the system to work.
Since 2013 when the project was first begun by Google X labs, Project Loon has gone from a simple concept with massive research required to a fully fledged effort by Google. It’s now no longer a case of ‘will it work’ but now instead it’s a case of ‘when will it be ready’.
Check out the video below from google for more information on Project loon and how google have made the balloons so much easier to get going.