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Internet balloons: Google approaches UN, asks for airspace access for Project Loon?

The project that was launched in 2013, saw its first baloon take off from South America in February, reports AFP. However, it crashed at a tea plantation in Sri Lanka.? Photograph: (Getty)

WION California, United States Sep 30, 2016, 03.11 AM (IST)

American multinational tech company, Google, has approached United  Nation's (UN) aviation agency to ask for airspace access for its new initiative 'Project Loon', that aims to provide internet access in remote areas with balloons, AFP reported today. 

 

Project Loon balloons travel approximately 20 km above the Earth's surface in the stratosphere and use predictive models of the winds and decision-making algorithms to extend internet connectivity in rural and remote areas. 

 

The project that was launched in 2013, saw its first baloon take off from South America in February, reports AFP. However, it crashed at a tea plantation in Sri Lanka. 

 

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has partnered with Sri Lanka to improve the internet access in targetted areas.  The company's X-Lab says it hopes to set up  a network on helium baloons to emit powerful 4G signals. 

 

The project has "significantly improved the balloon design, manufacture and launch procedure," X Lab told the UN`s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Wednesday, according to a document accessed by AFP.

 

"The balloons are now robust, remaining aloft well beyond the targeted 100 days, and are launched through a custom developed auto-launcher, allowing rapid multiple launches," X Lab told the organisation`s executive committee.

 

Google's parent company has requested the assistance of ICAO member states as they met for its 39th triennial assembly. Alphabet appealed to the member states to "establish bilateral or multilateral letters of agreement with adjacent states and Project Loon to allow Loon balloons to safely transit flight information region boundaries."

 

"Safety and coordination with the international civil aviation community is very important to Project Loon," a X Lab spokeswoman told AFP.

 

(WION with inputs from AFP) 

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