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Here’s how Google’s Project Loon will ride wind currents to provide stable coverage

Stuart Thomas: Senior reporter
Google sent an internet balloon around the world in 22 days

When Google announced Project Loon, its bid to provide free global internet access using a network of high altitude balloons, we were naturally all pretty excited. The thing is, we couldn’t help wondering how it intended to stop them crashing into each other or bunching up and causing breaks in signal. Well now we have the answer.

In this video, Dan Piponi of Project Loon explains how the company will use wind currents at different altitudes to control how the balloons flock and to ensure that they remain evenly spaced out.

Piponi explains the technique using publicly available wind models to create simulations of how the balloons would travel around the world and, with the information embedded in their on-board sensors, know when to change altitude.

By the time the project is fully operational, he says, every balloon will know where every other balloon in the system is.