Google’s Project Loon has just had one of their balloons circumnavigate the world (sort of) in 22 days.
The balloon I-167 is part of the project to set up a “ network in the sky” to bring internet access to, in particular, the billions in the southern hemisphere who are not connected.
The 500 square metre balloon set off from New Zealand and circled Antarctica crossing South America before going some way south of Australia.
As it started the second lap balloon I-167 clocked up the half millionth kilometre mark in terms of the projects total balloon travel.
Since mid last year a couple of major improvements have helped the navigation of the balloons:
- “we’ve been using the wind data we’ve collected during flights to refine our prediction models and are now able to forecast balloon trajectories twice as far in advance.
- In addition, the pump that moves air in or out of the balloon has become three times more efficient, making it possible to change altitudes more rapidly to quickly catch winds going in different directions.”
We prefer balloons to drones and are fascinated by this project which can be followed on Google+
Here’s Googles video of the making of their balloons and why they last so long.