We’ve all heard about Google’s work with driverless cars. This month’s issue of Wired Magazine includes an article titled “Google’s Wi-Fi From the Sky”. It describes their ongoing efforts to place a network of high altitude balloons around the world making wi-fi available to billions more people. It is far from complete, but the basic concept has been shown to work. Their efforts now are focused on a design to keep those balloons in the air for months rather than days. At the heart of it is Google’s data crunching abilities. They sift through all of NOAA’s streaming data on upper air currents, weather forecasts and more to automatically place the balloon at an altitude where it will remain in place rather than blowing hundreds of miles away.
Technology that lifts a 2880 cubic inch equipment box into the air and powers it with a 100 watt solar array might power a camera and modem instead. It would require a very good camera as these balloons operate between 60,000 and 72,000 feet. The equipment in my last post flew below most air traffic. This balloon flies well above most air traffic. In time, It is another way we might monitor our work zones just a few years from now.