Google Parent Firm Pops Loon Balloon Internet Project
Alphabet is ending its loon initiative, which used high-altitude balloons to connect to the internet to remote locations and locations that have been hit by disasters.
Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon, brought the news in an online message posted on Thursday January 21st.
Westgarth said it failed to convert Loon into a commercially viable business and forced it to cease operations in the coming months after eight years of work.
“While we’ve found a number of willing partners along the way, we haven’t found a way to keep costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business,” wrote the CEO, adding that new technology development is always necessary “Risky by nature.”
Westgarth commended his team for achieving a number of innovations, including developing new methods to safely fly a vehicle lighter than air to anywhere in the world for hundreds of days in the stratosphere, and built a system to speed it up and reliably starting a vehicle the size of a tennis court and building a global supply chain for an entirely new technology and business.
In another post, Astro Teller, who heads Alphabet’s X-Moonshot unit, where Loon began his life before spinning off into his own company in 2018, shared some of the highlights of teamwork over the years, writing: ” From the farmers in New Zealand who made it possible for us to connect a balloon communication hub to his house in 2013, to our partners who made it possible to reach people after natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Peru, to our first trading partners in Kenya and to the Various organizations working to provide essential connectivity relentlessly find new ways to provide connectivity from the stratosphere – thank you very much. Loon would not have been possible without a community of innovators and risk takers who are just as passionate as we are when it comes to connecting the unconnected. “
Teller added that Alphabet’s commitment to connectivity continues with a $ 10 million donation to support nonprofits and businesses focused on connectivity, the internet, entrepreneurship and education in Kenya, where Loon is a pilot Internet service provided.
In an interview with Digital Trends in 2018, a Loon spokesperson said the easiest way to refer to the balloons as “floating cell phone towers” added, “Loon works with cellular network operators to make their networks disconnected or disconnected To expand communities. “
Loon’s flight system consisted of three main parts. First, the high-altitude balloon that keeps the system in the air. Second, a component that contains the hardware required for navigation and safe operation. And third, a section that houses the communications equipment needed to connect users on the ground.
Both Westgarth and Teller expressed a desire to see the continued use of technology that has emerged from Loon, e.g. B. communications payloads that can be connected from the stratosphere to many types of devices on the ground; and software that can manage constellations of connectivity vehicles that enable the delivery of highly efficient Internet service.
Teller said one of the immediate goals is “to take care of the employees” by trying to find alternative roles for them on X, Google and Alphabet.
Loon isn’t the first internet beaming initiative to fall from heaven. Facebook, for example, abandoned efforts to build its Aquila internet drone in 2018, citing growing competition from the aerospace industry, although a year later reports indicated it was working with Airbus on a similar project. SpaceX is also working to deliver Internet service from above through its growing space-based Starlink project.