Alphabet won't need all those internet balloons after all


Since it launched nearly four years ago, Alphabet's Project Loon experiment has shifted from an unlikely moonshot to an idea that might actually work. As Alphabet's experimental X division chief and "Captain of Moonshots" Astro Teller wrote today, the project team has "now exceeded even their own expectations," in the attempts to build a network of self-navigating, internet-beaming balloons. "And in the process they've leapt much closer to a day when balloon-powered Internet could become a reality for people in rural and remote regions of the globe." Back in September, the project's engineers showed how the system learned to ride air currents and stay in place over one area for months at a time. "The reason this is so exciting," Teller elaborated during a press conference at X's Mountain View headquarters, "is we can now run an experiment and try to give services in particular places of the world with 10 or 20 or 30 balloons, not with 200 or 300 or 400 balloons."

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