Google tests balloons to beam internet from near space

0

Google is launching balloons into near space to provide internet access to buildings below on the ground.


About 30 of the superpressure balloons are being launched from New Zealand from where they will drift around the world on a controlled path.

Attached equipment will offer 3G-like speeds to 50 testers in the country.

Access will be intermittent, but in time the firm hopes to build a big enough fleet to offer reliable links to people living in remote areas.

It says that balloons could one day be diverted to disaster-hit areas to aid rescue efforts in situations where ground communication equipment has been damaged.

But one expert warns that trying to simultaneously navigate thousands of the high-altitude balloons around the globe's wind patterns will prove a difficult task to get right.

Written By: Leo Kelion
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

NO COMMENTS

    • The article says google plans to fly them at twice the altitude of commercial aircraft but there is a low risk at the end of their working life when they are in controlled descent. Still, interesting one to watch.

      In reply to #2 by TanyaK:

      Great – more near misses with jets and false UFO sightings in the news, then?

      • In reply to #3 by Marktony:

        The article says google plans to fly them at twice the altitude of commercial aircraft but there is a low risk at the end of their working life when they are in controlled descent. Still, interesting one to watch.

        In reply to #2 by TanyaK:

        Just seems to me that we have already a vast amount of junk floating around in orbit – is it really sensible to start floating a lot more lower down?

        Why not just bung a massive satellite up over Asia – problem solved, lol.

  1. “But one expert warns that trying to simultaneously navigate thousands of the high-altitude balloons around the globe’s wind patterns will prove a difficult task to get right.”

    Not a problem. They’ve got quantum computers. :P

  2. The the steering mechanism they describe would give pretty rough control.

    So it seems you would have to maintain coverage by constantly launching new balloons. They say the balloons will stay aloft 100 days. I always thought it was in the order of days. Are they doing something bleeding edge?

    It would seem you would need a lot more of these balloons than you would satellites to get the same effect. I trust they are very much cheaper to build and launch. It conjures up images of “Google the busking juggler”

  3. Since the equipment is dependent on solar power, the algorithms must also ensure there is enough charge left in the batteries to allow them to carry on working as they travel through the night.

    This looks like a promising development if they can manage to adjust the altitude to tap into different winds so as to keep them on track.

    At the end of their working life, the software initiates a controlled descent so that the kit can be recovered by teams of locally-based employees.

    “They have aviation transponders on them and we’re in constant contact with civil aviation authorities while the balloons are going up and coming down,” Mr DeVaul added.

    “They have flashing lights and radar reflectors, so as far as aviation hazards go these Loon balloons present very low risk to aircraft.

    It looks like they have thought it through to keep them above levels used by aircraft during operation, and to return to Earth with proper location and control systems. Unlike space junk, they can easily be returned to Earth.

    “And they also pose low risk to anybody on the ground because even in the unlikely scenario that one suddenly and unexpectedly fails, they have parachutes that are automatically deployed.”

    With a back-up system to reduce risk.

    • In reply to #7 by Alan4discussion:

      Since the equipment is dependent on solar power, the algorithms must also ensure there is enough charge left in the batteries to allow them to carry on working as they travel through the night.

      “It looks like they have thought it through to keep them above levels used by aircraft during operation, and to return to Earth with proper location and control systems”

      When the first aircraft collides with one of these things, I’ll remind you of this.:D lol

      • In reply to #10 by TanyaK:

        In reply to #7 by Alan4discussion:

        “It looks like they have thought it through to keep them above levels used by aircraft during operation, and to return to Earth with proper location and control systems”

        When the first aircraft collides with one of these things, I’ll remind you of this.:

        Your comments would contribute more to the debate if you researched them before making knee-jerk assertions.

        @OP link – Google aims to fly the balloons in the stratosphere, 20km (12 miles) or more above the ground, which is about double the altitude used by commercial aircraft and above controlled airspace.

        The information indicates that they are LESS LIKELY to be involved in collisions than existing balloons, airships, or aircraft due to altitude, navigation equipment and back-up systems.

        @link – “They have aviation transponders on them and we’re in constant contact with civil aviation authorities while the balloons are going up and coming down,” Mr DeVaul added.

        “They have flashing lights and radar reflectors, so as far as aviation hazards go these Loon balloons present very low risk to aircraft.

        D lol

        The lol s seem to be an expression of personal incredulity when faced with informed views.

  4. They admit it’s “very experimental” and it combines two things they are good at, number crunching and innovation. I will be interested to follow their progress. It’s a good field for better research and extra data at the moment, meteorology, and you can bet that a lot of what they are after will be data which will better inform attempts to model the world’s weather systems. Fluid Goddamits.

    The possible sociological, educational and scientific paradigm changes this could cause around the world are reminiscent of other famous well-funded research team projects…Manhattan… Bletchley Park

    …and I’ve always liked balloons.

    • In reply to #11 by Jabarkis:

      “…buildings below on the ground”? As opposed to…?

      I think this is referring to the blocking of signals by mountains, buildings etc, leading to “dead areas” where the line of sight signal from surface masts is obstructed to mobile phones in low-lying areas, cellars and basements. This could be important in rescues of earthquake victims buried in rubble – especially if the surface masts or power supply is destroyed.

      @ link – It says that balloons could one day be diverted to disaster-hit areas to aid rescue efforts in situations where ground communication equipment has been damaged.

Leave a Reply