Balloons rise up on the strato-frontier

Project Loon’s balloons are getting better at staying in one place. (Credit: Project Loon via YouTube) Drones, satellites and rocket planes are all well and good for high-flying missions, but sometimes the best craft for the job is a balloon. Google’s Project Loon, for example, is enlisting machine learning to pilot its experimental data-beaming balloons through the stratosphere. And other ventures are using high-altitude balloon platforms to conduct missions traditionally associated with suborbital rocket launches. Here’s a quick rundown on three ventures that are pushing the envelope: AI is my pilot: Wired reports on how the lab formerly known as Google X, and now known as Alphabet’s X, is making use of huge data sets to learn how to keep its autonomously guided Project Loon balloons where they need to be to…


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