X, a scientific research team, is working to improve Project Loon, which is a project it developed four years ago with Google to help provide internet coverage to some of the most remote parts of the Earth. Google wants to accomplish this by using large, technologically advanced balloons.
The balloons, built and designed by Raven Aerostar, are called Super Pressure Balloons. The balloons are as thin as a sandwich bag and are built to follow wind patterns as well as use payload technology. All the while, the balloons are able to be tracked and can deploy a parachute when asked to land.
According to TheNextWeb, X recently discovered a way to send a small group of balloons to an area and have them stay for months at a time. With this breakthrough, Google will not need to use nearly as many balloons as it has in the past.
Before the breakthrough, the balloons all traveled around the earth in a circle. They were designed to ride the wind and if one fell out of place another would come in and replace it. Now, according to Project Loon, they will use 100x times less as many balloons to accomplish even more than before. The use of less balloons will bring down the expense and increase practicality of the project.
More of half of the world’s population does not have access to internet. With this in mind, Google and X created the balloons to receive high-speed internet from Google’s telecommunication partner on the ground. The balloons would then relay it back to people on the ground. Google has been able to transmit data between balloons more than 100 km apart. They have provided data with speeds up to 10 Mbps to LTE phones all over the world. They have run more than 19 million km of test runs in hopes of solving any problems.
Durability of the balloons has been an issue. Due to the balloons floating 12 miles above earth, they experience harsh weather and often ruin. The record survival rate of a Super Pressure Balloon is 190 days. This balloon was able to circle the globe nine times and successfully land in Argentina. According to the Project Loon website, Google has built auto launchers that can consistently launch a new balloon every 30 minutes.