Google's AI can keep Loon balloons flying for over 300 days in a row

New Scientist 

Huge stratospheric balloons that act as floating cell towers in remote areas can stay in the air for hundreds of days thanks to an artificially intelligent pilot created by Google and Loon. Loon, a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, produces tennis-court-sized balloons that are filled with helium and sent into the stratosphere. Keeping these huge balloons in a fixed position is difficult as they can get blown off course. Now, researchers at Loon and Google have joined forces to create an AI controller that can counter the harsh winds of the stratosphere by releasing air to descend or adding it to ascend, riding atmospheric currents in the desired direction. The two firms used an AI technique called deep reinforcement learning to train the balloon's controllers.

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