Google's project to create balloon-based global Internet access is hovering closer to reality.
Project Loon, an effort from Google's X "moonshot" development program, is a network of balloons that will provide high speed Internet access to remote areas of the globe. Today, the company announced its algorithms can now tell groups of balloons to hover in one area where Internet is needed, Google's "Captain of Moonshots" Astro Teller wrote in a post on Medium on Thursday.
The Project Loon team was able to launch its balloons from Puerto Rico and direct them towards Peru, where they stayed for as long as three months.
Initially, the company planned to create rings of balloons around the world that would move to regions that needed access. The new hover process can move balloons in a matter of weeks instead of months. Though more testing needs to be done - and there's still no news on when Project Loon will officially be in use - this method is more cost effective and less work to manage.
Google credited the improvement to machine learning -- a set of techniques by which computer programs crunch huge amounts of data in order to improve efficiency. Google has portrayed itself as a leader in the field, with CEO Sundar Pichai pointing to rapid improvements in areas like language translation.
Google isn't alone in wanting to provide Internet around the world. Facebook's Aquila is a solar-powered plane that hopes do the same, but it suffered a "structural failure" when landing during its inaugural flight.