Two of Google X’s futuristic development projects, its Project Loon and Project Wing have been spun off by Google’s parent company (Alphabet) as standalone businesses although remaining as part of the Alphabet family.
Loon envisages a fleet of giant balloons floating in the stratosphere (at 18-25 kms high) to connect remote and underserved locations below with internet and broadband connectivity.
Loon’s balloons were used successfully following the devasting Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last autumn. Loon was formed in 2013, and its balloons ‘steer’ themselves and maintain power from solar panels. Each is designed to last around 100 days in the high atmosphere, and use transceivers to connect to and from the ground.
Loon will be run by Alastair Westgarth, who has supervised the project for the past year or so.
Wing sees a low cost, environmentally friendly, drone delivery service. The US Dept. of Transportation has selected Wing as one of 10 schemes it considers worth pursuing in its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Programme.