Google’s internet-delivering balloons are one step closer to becoming a common reality, as the company’s parent company, Alphabet, has gone before the UN to ask for access to airspace in different parts of the world.
Project Loon, as this initiative is called, was either developed by engineers inside of the Google X labs or stolen from an ex business partner of the company’s, depending on who you ask. Regardless of how it came to be, since 2014, Google has been pushing the concept of internet-delivering balloons, in an effort to improve internet access in remote or developing parts of the world.
Recently the project has made progress with Indian telecom operators signing up to participate in Project Loon, alongside other partners, such as Sri Lanka’s government.
Now, Google and its parent company Alphabet, have gone before the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ask member states for access to their airspace.
Explaining the progress they’ve made with the balloons, the company’s reps said:
Safety and coordination with the international civil aviation community is very important to Project Loon. [We’ve] significantly improved the balloon design, manufacture and launch procedure. 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.
Alphabet asked the ICAO 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”.
Project Loon is expected to see wider-scale tests and even partial deployment in the near future.