[TECH]:: "How Loon's Balloons find their way to deliver the Internet"

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[TECH]:: "How Loon's Balloons find their way to deliver the Internet"

RussellMc
Rather more woirthwhile reading that might be imagined.
Gives into how complex a "simple" task can be.

Computer programs can direct Alphabet's high-altitude balloons to tack
against the wind, and move in figure eights, where humans might plot a
circle.


https://www.wired.com/story/how-loons-balloons-find-way-deliver-internet/?fbclid=IwAR0dvoNprdH1xjJqQDCU1cJUPuYU_LAUHv4cf18Ny9tYfc09j98yKk9iMf4


To provide coverage over an area, Loon runs packs of five to 10 balloons.
Together, they can provide an aerial mesh network (more users require more
balloons) with backup balloons waiting nearby, ready to hop up. Loon is
testing over western Peru, offering service to an undisclosed number of
people. The balloons can only spend so long aloft, and Loon generally
brings them down after 150 days. Technical difficulties like dying
batteries shorten the lives of others. But more often than not, it’s the
wind that’s the culprit, simply blowing a balloon out of its service area.

To provide coverage over an area, Loon runs packs of five to 10 balloons.
Together, they can provide an aerial mesh network (more users require more
balloons) with backup balloons waiting nearby, ready to hop up. Loon is
testing over western Peru, offering service to an undisclosed number of
people. The balloons can only spend so long aloft, and Loon generally
brings them down after 150 days. Technical difficulties like dying
batteries shorten the lives of others. But more often than not, it’s the
wind that’s the culprit, simply blowing a balloon out of its service area.

Staying put is no simple task for a gas bag that’s the size of a tennis
court and has no way to resist the wind. Loon’s balloons navigate by moving
up and down, looking for the air currents that will take them where they
need to be. To do that, they are not “hand-flown,” or manually directed by
human beings. Instead, they follow complex algorithms that Candido’s team
has spent years honing, a computer-borne approach to the world that
produces flight paths that seem anything but elementary.
The problem with this sort of navigation is that wind currents are shifty
things. Riding them through the sky is like using a road network where
streets change their directions, number of lanes, and speed limits, or even
disappear altogether at unpredictable times. What's more, the global models
of wind speeds and directions built by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration and its European equivalent, using disposable weather
balloons carrying radiosondes
<https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/radiosondes>, leave much room for error.
So if you were watching a balloon fly west when its target is to the east,
you would probably think that it was broken, or that the algorithm
directing it was faulty. But over the past six years, during which Loon
balloons have logged a collective 1 million hours of flight time, Candido
has learned not to judge so quickly.

... More ...

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