Google’s Project Loon wants to provide Internet to the world through a series of balloon swarms. Detailed earlier this year, the initiative is attempting to figure out the problem of getting Wi-Fi to remote parts of the world—and Google is doing so by getting balloons all the way up in Earth’s stratosphere. Sounds easy, right? Sure, sending its Internet army into the sky isn’t the most complicated part; it’s actually getting those balloons to flock together, sort of like birds, that’s proving difficult.
Of course, Google thinks it has the answer, and it’s solution could lead to consistent coverage wherever the balloons are deployed. As Google detailed before, moving balloons into place by catching airflows is doable, but making multiple balloons move in unison is a much tougher task. So, naturally, the company drew inspiration from flocks of bids in order to make Loon work—at least in simulations.
Basically, the balloons will be programed with a set of parameters that tells each balloon to evenly space itself out from the next. If there’s a space not being filled, the balloons will adjusts themselves in order to float around in a consistent formation. And, in the future, Google says that its balloons will be smart enough to know exactly what other balloons in its group are doing.
Google said that once its simulations positively demonstrated its balloons can successfully float around with a flock mentality, Project Loon was given the thumbs up as an actual feasible initiative, and not just something a Bond villain would think up. It’ll certainly be awhile before Google has its Loon swarms crowding Earth’s skies, but it sure sounds like the company’s engineers are making good progress.