Google has unveiled the top-secret Project Loon. The place is Christchurch, New Zealand. The project took 18 months to get completed. Google X is an initiative that has brought Google Glass, Google self-driving cars and now the Project Loon. The mission is called Project Loon and it´s “highly experimental”. Google had a press conference to announce the Project Loon, along with New Zealand´s prime minister, John Key.
The project is very ambitious, the balloons pending on the sky look fragile, almost like if they were going to be blown away by the wind, however, the project is very strong and sustainable and is looking to provide internet to 4.8 billion people around the world.
Google X decided to launch the Project Loon on friendly nations, like New Zealand , otherwise they might have encountered some barriers from hostile countries.
Google balloons have attached equipment and will offer 3G-like speeds to 50 testers in the country. Electronic equipment hangs underneath including radio antennas, a flight computer, an altitude control system and solar panels to power gear.
Each balloon is 15 m (49.2 ft) in diameter, is like the length of a small plane, it will be flying with the help of lifting gases.
Google aims to fly the balloons in the stratosphere over 60, 000 feet above sea level, which is about double the altitude used by commercial aircraft and above controlled airspace.
The balloon will last for about 100 days and it will give access to an area of 40 km in diameter below as they travel in a west-to-east direction.
Richard DeVaul, a chief technical architect at Google, said to BBC, “It´s pretty hard to get the internet to lots of parts of the world”. “Just because in principle you could take a satellite phone to sub-Saharan Africa and get a connection there, it doesn’t mean the people have a cost-effective way of getting online”, as Wired informed.
When the balloon uses all its power starts to descend automatically and it will be recovered by employees in strategy locations.
Google´s Project Loon is going to be working with some special antennas that have been fixed to the homes of people in New Zealand.
The balloons will function with a software that makes adjustments to the balloons altitude taking advantage of the wind. The equipment is dependent on the solar power, and it has to ensure that there is enough solar power to carry through the night.
The Project loon, is a great idea and it will provide internet to almost 5 billion people. Google´s executives said on April on twitter: “For every person online, there are two who are not. By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected”. The Project loon is substantially good, and opens the world to billions, whom will have access to worldwide news, education online, trending topics, etc; in a sense it will make the world more democratic and informed.
Almost two years ago, the sparkle of the Project Loon started as an initiative of the giant Google Corporation. Rich DeVaul, is an expert in wearable technology. He joined Google and his job was to evaluate and create projects that will sound crazy and “impossible”, at Google X. Astro Teller, who is part of the lab, said “our goal is to kill a project as fast as we can”, they are like the tech-devil´s advocates.
DeVaul started a series of trial runs in California´s Central Valley with a very basic prototype of balloon, at the beginning there were errors and technical failures, but DeVaul couldn´t kill the project and it evolved. In 2012 the project became doable by Google X and the engineer Mike Cassidy joined the project, he organized a team of mapping experts, engineers, ex-military operatives to develop the best routes for the balloons.
Some of the balloons will be located at Lake Tekapo, a beautiful mountain region where Lord of the Rings was filmed
At some point, well crafted balloons were needed and Google X hired Raven Aerostar, a company known for designing weather balloons for NASA.
Google, with time, expects to build reliable links for the people who live in very remote areas. Mike Cassidy, said that the next phase of the project will be to get 300 balloons making a ring, covering the 40th parallel south from New Zealand to Australia, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.
For inhabitants of Christchurch the balloons will be almost invisible, but for people who know where to look in rural areas they will be easy to see with binoculars.
By: Oskar Guzman
Source: BBC, Wired