Raven Aerostar and Google are collaborating on a project to provide balloon-powered Internet access for rural, remote, and underserved areas of the world. Raven Engineered Films is participating in “Project Loon” by manufacturing and supplying ultra-thin film to Raven Aerostar for the balloon envelope assembly.
The pilot project is still in its early stages, but has conducted a successful trial in New Zealand involving 30 Raven Aerostar high-tech balloons, which provided Internet connectivity to an area covering nearly 10,000 square kilometers.
The balloons are 60-feet-tall and fly at an altitude of 66,000 feet. The teams designed sophisticated technology that can control the path of the balloons, moving them up and down in the stratosphere so they can sail on the wind, traveling in the right speed and direction. This, along with software developed by Google for managing a fleet of balloons, is a significant step in turning balloons into a viable platform for providing Internet access to remote areas.
“Stratospheric, ‘lighter than air’ balloon technology has been a core innovation for Raven Aerostar for decades,” said Lon Stroschein, vice president and general manager of Raven Aerostar. “What’s exciting about this is that it’s a new and elegant way of applying this technology to the challenge of Internet access for all.”