We always thought Project Loon would operate by creating rings of balloons around the globe and worked hard to maximize the amount of time each balloon spent over land. But over the last few months we were able to make some major breakthroughs by applying machine learning techniques to our navigation algorithms, and as a result, we can now get teams of balloons to cluster together over a particular region of the earth. This has enormous implications for Loon’s economic and operational viability: we can put together a Loon network over a particular region in weeks not months and we can get greater value out of each individual balloon. Overall this means we can reduce the total number of balloons we’d need, which has huge implications for the costs of operating a Loon-powered network.
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