Yesterday we wrote about a South African farmer finding one of Google’s Project Loon Internet balloons crashed on his property. Coincidentally – or at least I assume it was a coincidence – the Project Loon team yesterday issued a progress report in a blog post.
Seems Google is now launching 20 of these balloons every day and, according to the company, they’re remaining aloft 10 times longer than they were last year, with 100 days now normal and 130 days being the record.
From that blog post:
It’s one thing for our balloons to last longer, but to build a ring of connectivity around the world we’ll also need to get more in the air. Imagine how long it would take you and your friends to inflate 7,000 party balloons. That’s what it takes to fill just one of our Loon balloons for flight, so we’ve developed autofill equipment that will be capable of doing it in under 5 minutes. We now have the ability to launch up to 20 balloons per day as we continue to improve our ability to launch consistently at scale.
As we’ve launched more long-lasting balloons in the stratosphere we’ve needed to ensure that we can accurately maneuver them to where they need to go. By constantly computing thousands of trajectory simulations it turns out we can get pretty close to our targets. For example, one flight came within 1.5km of our target destination over a flight of 9,000 kilometers, purely through predicting and sailing with the stratospheric winds. This is great for getting our balloons to where users need them, and great for getting balloons to our recovery zones at the end of their lifetime to make our recovery team’s job that much easier.
It turns out that they are not supposed to be recovered by South African farmers, rather Google has a team of employees dedicated to the task. This video explains how they go about the job:
“It’s important for us to clean up after ourselves,” says the narrator.
Guess they owe that farmer a thank-you note.
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