“Working with AT&T, Project Loon is now maintaining basic connection and internet activities like conveying text messages and accessing data online for some people with LTE enabled phones,” Project Loon leader Alastair Westgarth wrote. “This is the earliest time we have used our new machine learning powered algorithms to keep aircraft clustered over Puerto Rico, so we’re still learning how best to do this. As we get more natural with the constantly shifting winds in this region, we hope to keep the aircraft over areas where connectivity is needed for as long as possible.”
Now, Project Loon has reached a new milestone. News has reported that Project Loon has recovered internet connectivity more than 100,000 people in Puerto Rico.
This report was confirmed by The Team on X’s Twitter account.
Alphabet’s Loon balloons serve as replacements for the cell towers that were devastated by Hurricane Maria, but they aren’t capable of providing any service on their own. Google’s parent company is still relying on AT&T and other cellular messengers to provide service; Loon just serves as a tone mechanism.
Westgarth suggested that Project Loon was still an exploratory technology, so the company could make no commitments regarding how long Loon would work. However, he said that they intended to keep the project “in areas where it’s needed for as long as it is useful and were able to do so.”
Unfortunately, it is resembling like Project Loon might be needed for many months to come. News reports that nearly 80 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power, and lack of reliable communication settings further slowed the recovery. Google’s parent business is hopeful that Project Loon will be able to aid relief efforts while assuring that those caught in the storm are able to keep in touch with friends and family.
This isn’t the first chance that Project Loon has been used to respond to disasters. Earlier this year, the corporation worked with the Peruvian government and wireless providers to restore internet access to the tens of thousands of people who were swayed by floods.
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