Google has announced that it was “years closer” to deliver internet to remote parts of the world using high-flying balloons.
Researchers at Google’s Project Loon — part of the company’s X research lab — said it was now able to use machine learning to predict weather systems, meaning the firm has a greater control over where its balloons go, making it possible to focus on a specific region, rather than circumnavigating the globe,
“We can now run an experiment and try to give service in a particular place in the world with ten, twenty or thirty balloons,” Astro Teller, head of Alphabet’s X unit (formerly Google X), was quoted as saying.
“Real users” will be able to use the system in the “coming months”, he added — but he did not specify where the initial roll out would take place.
Under the project, the firm will suspend a network of huge, tennis-court sized balloons that will beam down connectivity.
The balloons float in the stratosphere around 11 miles high. By raising or lowering altitude, the balloons can be caught in different weather streams, changing direction, the report said.
“By using machine-learning algorithms, Google might have cracked a way to predict weather with enough accuracy to make it possible to hover balloons over a relatively small area for a long period of time,” the report noted.
Teller said that Project Loon was one of the more “mature” moonshot ideas at the company and Google was in “no rush” to make Project Loon a stand-alone business.
Last year, Teller said the connection had advanced to deliver about 15mbps internet access.