(Sample Material) Study Kit on Current Affairs for UPSC Mains
Science and Technology: Project Loon
Among Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s key announcements this week while on a visit
to India was to get India on board “Loon”. The company wants to reach out to the
‘two in three Indians” who don’t have access to the Internet.
- Even by Google’s standards, it’s audacious enough for one of the
engineers involved to term it a “mad, mad idea that might actually work”.
- That apart, it refers to a network of about a thousand balloons which
will surf the stratosphere and stand in for telecom towers to beam Internet
to underserved regions.
World and Loons
- California and Brazil have seen some initial experiments but the bulk of
the most ambitious exercises is in New Zealand, with its vast, barren spaces
and relatively-freer airspace.
- However, the stated aim of the initiative is to be able to move balloons
into India, Africa and hopefully all of the five billion people without the
- From descriptions available, the balloons will inflate to the size of a
- They come attached with antennae, solar panels and a host of electronics
that will allow ·their movement to be controlled on the ground by Google.
- The balloons fly 20 kilometres above the ground in the stratosphere.
Wind speeds vary in each of the layers here. The tough part is in, getting
the.balloons to land on appropriate wind; currents that” will take them to
- To do so Google will crunch the humongous weather data freely’ available
using its’ vast computational resources. For now, it does seem that the·
- One of them circumnavigated the globe and another did a 12,000-mile
journey and landed within 500 metres of where it was supposed to. Not bad
for a project that’s only a little over two years old.
- Anything that can potentially travel.the world runs into the problem of
- India’s IT Ministry has said that the frequency at which the’ balloons
will provide 4G Internet interferes with the country’s communication
networks. Moreover, Google must, at the end of the day, partner with
earth-bound telecom service providers whose jurisdictions can be of a
- Facebook, too, in aiming to provide Internet through drones, is also
angling to be an Internet provider through the airspace. So, in the context
of debates over Net neutrality, several questions, are bound to emerge over
whether there are any caveats to accessing the Internet through these modes.