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Can internet-beaming balloons outmaneuver shifting winds?

The Japan Times

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA – For its next trick, an internet-beaming balloon factory that was spun out of Google believes it can outmaneuver the wind. In doing so, the 4-year-old "Project Loon" says it will be able to bring remote parts of the world online more quickly with a smaller fleet of the balloons than it previously thought. X now expects to need fewer balloons to fulfill its goal of delivering internet service to billions of people living in unconnected regions in the world, ranging from small villages in Africa to the woods of California. The need for fewer balloons should lower Project Loon's costs and accelerate plans to start selling internet-services subscriptions to consumers and businesses. The X Lab, like other parts of Alphabet that are funded by Google's highly profitable digital advertising network, is under pressure to start making money on its own.


How a machine-learning 'breakthrough' may accelerate Alphabet's Loon project

#artificialintelligence

A machine-learning'breakthrough'on Alphabet's Loon project to connect the unconnected in the world's underdeveloped and remote areas could accelerate progress on global Internet connectivity. Project Loon has "now exceeded even their own expectations for how well their smart software algorithms can help their balloons navigate the globe, 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," wrote Astro Teller, the head of X, Alphabet's self-described'moonshot factory' that houses Project Loon and has produced such innovations as Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car project. Project Loon is a network of free-flying, high-altitude balloons that beam Internet to earth. And the machine-learning breakthrough announced yesterday comes at an important time, because the project has struggled with several issues that have brought its viability into question, including renegade balloons that floated off-course or crashed. "Although our navigation algorithms can get even better, and we need to test them in many other parts of the world, this is a positive sign for Loon's economic and operational viability," Teller wrote.


Alphabet's 'Loon' internet project closer to deployment

Daily Mail - Science & tech

In the hope of bringing internet access to even the most remote corners of the globe, Google parent Alphabet's'Loon' project has taken a big step closer. Alphabet said artificial intelligence-infused navigation software has significantly sped up plans, helping to smartly guide high-altitude balloons to improve coverage. While the firm has not said when it expects the balloons to be up and running, Astro Teller, head of the team at Alphabet unit X said: 'We are looking to move quickly, but to move thoughtfully.' Alphabet said artificial intelligence-infused navigation software has significantly sped up plans, helping to smartly guide high-altitude balloons to improve coverage. Teller said: 'Our timelines are starting to move up on how we can do more for the world sooner.'


Machine Learning Invades the Real World on Internet Balloons 7wData

#artificialintelligence

Astro Teller knows how to draw attention. He was wearing his rollerblades on Thursday when he glided into a roomful of reporters to announce that Project Loon--Alphabet's wacky-sounding plan to deliver the internet to the world's farthest-flung places via giant balloons--is even closer to reality than the company previously thought. It was a made-for-the-press moment, but Teller buried the lede. It's cool that these balloons may soon start broadcasting internet signals from the stratosphere. But the bigger deal here is that machine learning is moving beyond its digital origins into the real world.


Machine Learning Invades the Real World on Internet Balloons

WIRED

Astro Teller knows how to draw attention. He was wearing his rollerblades on Thursday when he glided into a roomful of reporters to announce that Project Loon--Alphabet's wacky-sounding plan to deliver the internet to the world's farthest-flung places via giant balloons--is even closer to reality than the company previously thought. It was a made-for-the-press moment, but Teller buried the lede. It's cool that these balloons may soon start broadcasting internet signals from the stratosphere. But the bigger deal here is that machine learning is moving beyond its digital origins into the real world.