Project loon – Revolution in Global internet access
Project Loon: What is it?
- Project Loon is a network of balloon project being developed by X (formerly Google X) with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.
- The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 15-18 km to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds.
- It was named Project Loon, since even Google itself found the idea of providing Internet access to the remaining 5 billion population unprecedented and “crazy.”
Project Loon: How it works?
- They are carried around the Earth by winds and they can be steered by rising or descending to an altitude with winds moving in the desired direction.
- People connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building.
- The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, then to the global Internet back on Earth.
- Winds in the stratosphere are generally steady and slow-moving at between 5 and 20 mph, and each layer of wind varies in direction.
- 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.
Project Loon: Design of Loon
- It has 3 components:
- Solar Panel
- Envelope: Project Loon’s balloon envelopes are made from sheets of polyethylene plastic and stand fifteen meters wide by twelve meters tall when fully inflated. A parachute attached to the top of the envelope allows for a controlled descent and landing whenever a balloon is ready to be taken out of service.
- Solar Panel: Each unit’s electronics are powered by an array of solar panels that sits between the envelope and the hardware. In full sun, these panels produce 100 Watts of power – enough to keep the unit running while also charging a battery for use at night. By moving with the wind and charging in the sun, Project Loon is able to power itself using only renewable energy sources.
- Equipment: A small box containing the balloon’s electronic equipment. This box contains circuit boards that control the system. Radio antennas to communicate with other balloons and with Internet antennas on the ground. And batteries to store solar power so the balloons can operate during the night.
Project Loon: Connectivity
- Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40 km in diameter at speeds comparable to 4G. Each balloon is equipped with a GPS for tracking its location.
- Three radio transceivers used in Project loon.
- balloon-to-balloon communications
- balloon-to-ground communication
- communication for backup.
- The balloons use antennas equipped with specialized radio frequency technology.
- Project Loon currently uses ISM bands that are available for anyone to use.
Project Loon: Advantages
- Easy to access
- Good speed
- Increased internet usage.
Project Loon: Disadvantages
- Higher cost
- Unwanted balloon landing in case of hardware failures
Project Loon: Recent developments
- Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said it found a way to make the balloons a little less unpredictable. It’s using artificial intelligence to help improve the balloons’ navigation algorithms. That means they can better control a balloon’s ability to loiter in place instead of drifting off.
- With this navigation algorithm development, company can save the technology which is getting wasted above the oceans as there is no internet usage.
- Project Loon is still in the testing phase and has a long way to go. X is working with various governments to bring the balloon into the country.