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Alphabet Project Loon and Project Wing from moonshots into full businesses

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Google parent Alphabet has two new businesses under its name. The firm announced on Wednesday that it's'graduating' Project Loon and Project Wing from moonshots to full-fledged businesses at Alphabet. Project Loon, its internet-bearing balloon initiative, and Project Wing, its drone delivery service, were launched in 2013 and 2014, respectively, as part of its research-and-development lab Google X. Alphabet's Google X announced on Wednesday that its moonshots Project Loon and Project Wing would'graduate' to full companies. Now, Loon and Wing will be included in Alphabet's'Other Bets' category, which includes former Google X moonshots like deep learning research project Google Brain, life sciences research arm Verily as well as self-driving car startup Waymo, among others. The CEO of Loon will be Alastair Westgarth, former CEO of antenna company Quintel, while longtime Google employee James Ryan Burgess is the CEO of Wing, Google X head Astro Teller announced in a blog post.


Google kills off its Titan drone that would have taken on Facebook

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Google's secretive X R&D lab, a division of Google's parent company Alphabet, has pulled the plug on its drone project that would bring internet access to millions of people – Project Titan. It has been confirmed by Alphabet that engineers were told to look for other positions within the Alphabet/Google community. Although the project has been killed, the mission is still alive – the firm will continue to use Project Loon as a way to connect rural and remote areas of the world. X, a division of Google's parent company Alphabet, has pulled the plug on its project that would bring internet access to millions of people – Titan. The news was first reported by 9To5Mac, which received a statement from an X spokesperson.


Facebook abandons plan to build giant-wing solar broadband drones

ZDNet

Facebook has abandoned plans to build a fleet of high-altitude drones that would offer internet access to remote areas. Around four billion people globally do not have access to the internet, and back in 2014 Facebook began work on its Aquila project, which aimed to use giant solar-powered drones to beam down the internet. Facebook set up a team in Bridgewater in the UK to lead the design, development, and testing work for a new type of aircraft, known as a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system. The Aquila drone was designed to stay in the air for months at a time, and create a 50km communications zone for up to 90 days, transmitting a signal that would be received by small towers and dishes, and converted into a Wi-Fi or LTE network that people could connect to using their smartphones. The scale of the project was ambitious: the Aquila was designed with the wingspan of a Boeing 737 airplane but weighed a third as much as an electric car, and was designed to fly at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet during the day, which put it above commercial air traffic and above the weather, making it easier to charge its solar cells.


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.'


Google's balloon-powered internet is helping Peru during extreme floods

Mashable

During natural disasters, the ability to communicate with loved ones and get basic information is vital. But communication infrastructure is often one of the first things to be knocked out by high winds, massive rain, and flooding -- especially in remote and rural regions. Massive jellyfish-like balloons traveling at the edge of space, however, are making that problem a thing of the past. SEE ALSO: 9 incredible ways we're using drones for social good Over the past two months, Peruvians affected by extreme rain and severe flooding since January have had basic internet access, thanks to Project Loon, an initiative from Google's parent company Alphabet to bring internet to developing nations. The efforts in Peru show that Project Loon could be a model for relief during future natural disasters, with the potential to increase connectivity and communication when it's needed most.