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Google's Project Loon: Now AI can steer its 4G-beaming balloons to right part of sky

ZDNet

To achieve 98 days total above Peru, the balloon made nearly 20,000 adjustments. Google's new wind-predicting algorithms have kept one of its internet-beaming air balloons aloft in Peru's airspace for a total of 98 days. Google's measure for success when it comes to Project Loon isn't just keeping balloons flying for 100 days, but ensuring they're not carried out to sea by air currents where they can't deliver wireless internet to the public. Project Loon, which sits in the X unit of Google's parent Alphabet, has used human-coded algorithms to determine how high or low in the stratosphere the air balloons need to be to catch a current that will take them in the desired direction. However, as Wired reports, updates to Loon's navigational system apply machine-learning techniques to the roughly 17 million kilometers of flight data it's collected to predict wind directions at different altitudes.


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.


Machine Learning Invades the Real World on Internet Balloons

#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.


Alphabet's Loon hands the reins of its internet air balloons to self-learning AI

#artificialintelligence

Alphabet's Loon, the team responsible for beaming internet down to Earth from stratospheric helium balloons, has achieved a new milestone: its navigation system is no longer run by human-designed software. Instead, the company's internet balloons are steered around the globe by an artificial intelligence -- in particular, a set of algorithms both written and executed by a deep reinforcement learning-based flight control system that is more efficient and adept than the older, human-made one. The system is now managing Loon's fleet of balloons over Kenya, where Loon launched its first commercial internet service in July after testing its fleet in a series of disaster relief initiatives and other test environments for much of the last decade. Similar to how researchers have achieved breakthrough AI advances in teaching computers to play sophisticated video games and helping software learn how to manipulate robotic hands in lifelike ways, reinforcement learning is a technique that allows software to teach itself skills through trial and error. Obviously, such repetition is not possible in the real world when dealing with high-altitude balloons that are costly to operate and even more costly to repair in the event they crash.


Google Project Loon Now Also Using Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning Allowed Balloon To Stay Up In Air For 98 Days

#artificialintelligence

X, formerly known as the Google X lab before spinning off into a new unit under parent Alphabet after a company restructuring, has tapped artificial intelligence to drive one of its most popular projects. Project Loon, which looks to launch balloons into the stratosphere to provide internet access to users on Earth, made a major breakthrough recently. One of its balloons was able to stay up in Peruvian airspace for 98 days, an impressive feat considering the difficulty to keep a balloon at a certain spot for a long period of time. The breakthrough was announced by the Project Loon team through its official Google page, where it stated that it was hard at work in the development of the navigation technology that its balloons will use. The latest updates were put to the test this summer on one of Project Loon's flights, launching the balloon from a site in Puerto Rico and then having it travel to Peru.