In February, 2017, Google reported that Project Loon’s algorithms can now send small teams of balloons to form a cluster over a specific region where people need internet access. This is a shift from their original model for Loon in which we planned to create rings of balloons sailing around the globe, and balloons would take turns moving through a region to provide service.
Machine-learning-powered algorithms now enable us to send small teams of balloons to a specific region. The balloons dance on the winds in small loops to remain where needed.
Previously Google Loon would require a global ring of internet balloons. Each balloon would hand off to the next as they circled the earth.
Although the navigation algorithms can get even better, Google will need to test them in many other parts of the world. This is a positive sign for Loon’s economic and operational viability. They will be able to put together a Loon network over a particular region in weeks not months, and it would be a lot less work to launch and manage. They will reduce the number of balloons they need and get greater value out of each one. All of this helps reduce the costs of operating a Loon-powered network, which is good news for the telco partners we’ll work with around the world to make Loon a reality, and critical given that cost has been one key factor keeping reliable Internet from people living in rural and remote regions.
Google Loon has switched CEO’s several times in the last few months
Tom Moore, a satellite veteran brought in to lead Google’s Project Loon unit, has stepped down after about six months. Alastair Westgarth, who headed wireless antenna company Quintel, is taking the spot.
The transition comes after the company scaled back an ambitious attempt to build a global communications service by circling the earth with high-altitude balloons. X, the research division of Google parent Alphabet Inc., recruited Moore in August after the unit’s earlier leader, Mike Cassidy, stepped down. Moore started in mid-September.