Project Loon is an initiative by Google to bring internet access to the two out of three people in the world currently living with no reliable connection. With Project Loon, Google intends to solve that problem by releasing thousands of floating balloons into the Earth’s stratosphere projecting internet in the form of LTE to its people. When the program first began, development was slow with balloons taking days to construct and troubleshoot. Launched balloons often leaked, returning back down to the surface just hours after launching. Recently, a new Google+ post by the project as well as an uploaded Youtube video detailing their progress shows the long strides Project Loon has taken since it began.
The design of the balloons has improved so drastically that at this point the main goal is to achieve the massive scale they need to blanket the Earth in internet connectivity. With materials of higher durability as well as increased flight accuracy launched balloons are now capable of maintaining altitude for over 100 days according to the video. The manufacturing process has improved so drastically that with higher levels of automation in the process balloons are now ready for release after only a few hours. The team behind Project Loon is now attempting to improve the process of releasing as well as retrieval as balloons still need to be refilled after the approximated 100 days of flight completes.
Innovation and improvement are only going to continue and the project is showing great promise already. Apparently the balloons are remotely controlled and are able to alter altitude levels to maintain course. Trajectory changes are achieved via varying air currents in the stratosphere. At one set altitude the air currents will push the balloon to the left, while at a slightly higher or lower altitude to the right. The development team behind Project Loon hopes to have the balloons entirely controlled by computer software algorithms. While the bar is set high with goals to provide internet to the two out of three people living without a reliable connection, it does appear to be soon within reach. The next steps for the project appear to be meeting a large enough scale to make worldwide internet access a reality. Check out the video below to see for yourself how far Project Loon has come.