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Alphabet uses AI to expand coverage for its internet-beaming balloon network by orders of magnitude

Alphabet used to believe that its Project Loon Internet connectivity balloons would sail across the world, providing service as they traveled above land. But now, thanks to machine learning, the company’s moonshot division, X, has determined it can effectively predict wind patterns, and actually choose which winds to fly in to keep balloons circling above … Continue reading “Alphabet uses AI to expand coverage for its internet-beaming balloon network by orders of magnitude”

Alphabet used to believe that its Project Loon Internet connectivity balloons would sail across the world, providing service as they traveled above land. But now, thanks to machine learning, the company’s moonshot division, X, has determined it can effectively predict wind patterns, and actually choose which winds to fly in to keep balloons circling above countries rather than simply continuing on and requiring additional balloons to arrive and continue service.

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That means that it should now be possible for as few as 10, 20, or 30 Loon balloons to provide coverage to a single country rather than hundreds, Astro Teller, the head of moonshots at X, said at a press event today. And by achieving that, Alphabet believes the Loon project can provide connectivity with more profitability to itself and to its telco partners.

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About the author

Daniel Terdiman is a San Francisco-based technology journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. A veteran of CNET and VentureBeat, Daniel has also written for Wired, The New York Times, Time, and many other publications

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