Saturday, June 15, 2013

Google's Project Loon - Balloon-powered Network in the Sky

Google introduced Project Loon, one of its "moonshot" initiatives to transform the world with breakthrough technology. Project Loon's aim is to deliver Internet access to "all the world's people" including remote locations on every continent. The project is experimental and still in its early days.

Project Loon will use free flying balloons at high altitudes to beam Internet access to the ground at 3G speeds or faster. The concept will require a very large fleet of balloons and complex algorithms to ensure continuous coverage as the balloons drift around the planet.

Some key elements:

  • Project Loon will launch and manage a network of high-altitude balloons operating at about 20,000m elevation.  Balloons communicate with neighboring balloons as well as to stations on the ground.
  • Each balloon will be about 15m in diameter.
  • Google will steer the ballons by using solar power to control the altitude. Bands of balloons will circle around the globe at various latitudes.
  • Google will use specialized antennas on the ground to pick up the signal.
  • Google launched 30 balloons this week from the New Zealand as a test.
  • Google said it can direct the balloons to land and hopes to retrieve and reuse the balloons when possible.
  • Rich DeVaul is Chief Technical Architect of Project Loon. Mike Cassidy is Project Lead.

See also