Loon's lessons several years away

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014
google balloon
SUPPLIED/ George Empson

WAIT FOR RESULTS: Internet giant Google releases more giant polyethylene balloons over the Mackenzie country as part of the initial stages of an experiment looking at providing internet access to remote areas.

google balloon
SUPPLIED/ George Empson
 

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It could be several years before the lessons learned from Google's Project Loon are put into action.

Last week, the internet giant launched more than a dozen large polyethylene balloons from the Tekapo airfield to test whether they could be used to give internet access to remote regions. It was the second stage of an initiative announced in June last year.

Spokesman Johnny Luu said there had been some work on the project since its initial launch, particularly in regard to getting the latest batch of balloons more capable.

"Since launching Project Loon in New Zealand, we've continued to do research flights to improve the technology. We co-ordinate with local air traffic control [about the balloons' flightpath]," Mr Luu said.

It is understood the project is in its early stages, and the "full service" is some time away. However, if ultimately successful, the balloons would provide a "ring of connectivity" that could be accessed in remote locations.

When Google launched Project Loon last year, several of the first 30 balloons blew off course. Many had to be recovered by boat.

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- The Timaru Herald

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