Google to provide internet using flying balloons: Project Loon

Google is working on a technology where it can use balloons to beam internet in remote areas where no other means to connect to internet are available. We know there are many people who do not have access to internet. As the boy in the video of Project loon mentions- For every one person connected to internet, there are two persons who are not.

This is an interesting project taken up by Google and recently it has launched 30 balloons in New Zealand (in Canterbury to be precise). You can watch a nice video of this project created by Google here.

This project is called as 'Project Loon'. Let us see how it will work:

The balloons will travel from 20 Kms above the earth surface (this layer is called as Stratosphere). Winds in the stratosphere are generally steady and slow-moving at between 5 and 20 mph, and each layer of wind varies in direction and magnitude. Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network. 

Let us see the design of balloons. These balloons will have 3 parts viz. Envelope, solar panels and equipment.

The balloon envelope is the inflatable part of the balloon as shown in above picture. These envelopes are prepared from polyethylene plastic and they are 15 meters in width and 12 meters in height.

Solar panels-
The  balloons will need power and they will be powered by energy generated by the solar panels attached to them as shown in above picture. The solar panels generate 100 Watts of power which is enough to keep the unit running. The panels will also charge a battery which can be used when sunlight is not available and at night.

This equipment box has circuit boards which control the system, radio antennas to communicate with other balloons and with Internet antennas on the earth. The box also has space  for batteries to store solar power.

We have seen the design of balloons. Now let's see how they connect to each other and to the network on earth. Refer following image:

Each balloon is capable of providing connectivity to area of around 40KM in diameter. The speed will be roughly equal to the speed that we get using 3G. The antennas fixed in the equipment part will be used to communicate with other balloons and the stations on the earth. 

Project Loon currently uses ISM bands (specifically 2.4 and 5.8 GHz bands) that are available for anyone to use. 

So this is an overview of the Project Loon by Google. Lets wish them all the best for this project and lets also hope that Google will start this project in India :-)


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