Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Courtney Hohne
14,709 followers -
Google PR
Google PR

14,709 followers
About
Posts

Post has shared content
And the 2016 Golden Balloon goes to…..

Our annual Golden Balloon Awards recognize the Loon Balloons that have demonstrated epic feats of strength and stamina. They also shine a spotlight on some of the technical progress the team has made behind the scenes to bring us even closer to bringing connectivity to people around the world.

While in past years we’ve highlighted multiple high flyers, this year, one balloon stood out for its combination of endurance, agility and power. We called it The Bolt. The Bolt demonstrated an unmatched combination of navigational accuracy, balloon durability and sheer energetic endurance to set it apart from the flock.

A true all rounder, The Bolt set a new project record for balloon longevity, staying aloft for 190 days.

During its six-month-long adventure, The Bolt sailed more than 122,000 kilometers through the sky and hit top speeds of 162 kilometers per hour. To fuel this marathon effort, the balloon’s solar panels generated 1.72 gigajoules of energy over the course of the flight. If that amount of energy was deployed in seconds instead of months, it would be enough to spark a lightning bolt.

The Bolt’s high altitude tour started in Puerto Rico. From there, it floated over 19 different countries and three continents, sometimes reaching lofty heights of 20,353 meters - that’s the same view you’d have from the top of 65 Eiffel Towers stacked atop one another. Our new navigational algorithms, designed to maximize the time that balloons spend over areas where they can deliver connectivity to people on the ground, helped keep The Bolt on track. Bobbing up and down between the layers of the stratospheric winds, The Bolt made more than 30,000 maneuvers to stay on course during its global adventure.

In addition to the wild winds, The Bolt also endured extreme temperatures. Some nights it got as cold as -83C. That’s just a few degrees away from our record low of -90, and as icy as an Antarctic winter night. The Bolt is one of our “Nighthawk” designs, and its combination of strength and durability ensured that it was well equipped to withstand these extremes. (You can check out how we’ve evolved our balloon designs to make our fleet even stronger over the years here: goo.gl/MtnWEA).

After travelling the equivalent of three circumnavigations around the world, we decided it was time to bring our rugged adventurer back home. So we navigated The Bolt back to our landing site in the Nevada desert for a well earned retirement. The lessons we’ve learned from The Bolt’s explorations will help us make future balloons even stronger.
Photo

Post has attachment

Post has attachment

Post has shared content
The Project Loon team has been hard at work developing the latest updates to our navigation technology, designed to maximise the time that our balloons spend over areas where people may be in need of connectivity. This summer, we put those updates to the test on one of our Latin America flights, managing to keep our balloon drifting within Peruvian airspace for a total of 98 days!

Loon balloons navigate by moving up or down into different wind patterns travelling in different directions in the stratosphere. From our millions of kilometers of test flights we’ve been able to develop sophisticated models that allow us to more accurately predict the wind patterns at different altitudes. Using this data, our software algorithms are able to determine which altitude has a wind pattern that gives us the best chance of keeping our balloons close to the areas where we want them.

To test the latest updates to our navigation technology, we set one adventurous balloon the mission of travelling to Peru from our launch site in Puerto Rico, and then staying in the region for as long as possible. After 12 days in transit, the balloon was able to spend most of its time in the stratosphere 20km over the areas around Chimbote, Peru, making dozens of altitude adjustments each day to find the right winds that could keep it within range. When a wind pattern couldn’t be found to keep the balloon over land, our algorithms picked the next best option, sending the balloon drifting out over the Pacific Ocean to pick up easterly winds that could help it sail back into position. In total, the balloon managed to spend 14 weeks in Peruvian airspace, which required making nearly 20,000 separate altitude adjustments during its flight.

After all that work, our balloon was understandably a little tired! So, we set a course for the flat, remote plains in the Ica region in Southern Peru where we coordinated with local Air Traffic Control for a controlled descent - with our local recovery partner on hand to welcome the balloon back to Earth. We still have a lot of testing ahead of us, but we’re optimistic about the prospect of our balloons spending more of their stratospheric journeys in locations where they can provide connectivity to people on earth below.
PhotoPhotoPhotoPhoto
2016-09-23
4 Photos - View album

Post has attachment

Post has attachment

Post has shared content
Come on inside our moonshot factory with our captain, +Astro Teller. Things get a little messy in here since we spend a lot of time breaking things, but we’ve tried to make that our strength. Learn more: https://backchannel.com/the-secret-to-moonshots-killing-our-projects-49b18dc7f2d6#.je4mj6y85

Post has attachment
"The moonshot factory is a messy place. But rather than avoid the mess or pretend it’s not there, we’ve tried to make it our strength. We spend most of our time breaking things and working to discover that we’re wrong. That’s it. That’s the secret. Run at all the hardest parts of a problem first."

Post has shared content
Hello Kirkland, WA! We’ve chosen your beautiful city by Lake Washington as the next location of our self-driving car testing program.

After self-driving 1.4 million miles, we’re ready to give our cars more experience driving new environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions. (And we definitely don't mind the waterfront views either!)

From today, locals may see one of our Lexus RX450h SUVs driving around North Kirkland. We’d love to hear what you think, about how we’re driving, and what you would want to do with a self-driving car! Visit google.com/selfdrivingcar to drop our team a note!
Photo

Post has attachment
"California is a state with both world-class car culture and world-class innovation, and we can do better. Instead of putting a ceiling on the potential of self-driving cars, let’s have the courage to imagine what California would be like if we could live without the shackles of stressful commutes, wasted hours, and restricted mobility for those who want the independence that the automobile has always represented."
Wait while more posts are being loaded