Emergency Services Sent to Rescue Crashed Google Balloon
Published on: 21st Jun 2014
New Zealand's emergency services were called out to rescue one of Google's test Wi Fi broadcasting balloons.
The balloon crash landed, and locals suspecting a plane crash reported the accident to the emergency services who sent a helicopter and lifeboat to the scene, a remote location off the coast of Nape Nape, east of Cheviot.
Officers on the scene confirmed that it was in fact a balloon, not a plane crash. It was later confirmed that this was one of Google's test balloons which are designed to broadcast Wi-Fi signals into rural areas.
There have been projects that use tethered balloons to deliver mobile phone coverage in disaster areas before, and there has long been talk of some sort of balloon based internet coverage for rural areas.
However, as Google found out, trying to stay in one place like this requires a system with major cost and complexity. So the idea they've pursued is based on freeing the balloons and letting them sail freely on the winds.
The next stage is working out how to apply some degree of control to the free-floating balloons so that coverage is uniformly spread across the target areas, which they say they have now solved.
This week the company started a pilot program in the Canterbury area of New Zealand with 50 testers trying to make internet connections to the balloons. A total of 30 balloons are being released as part of the trial.
They have presumably now added preventing them from crashing into the sea to the list of things to try out before a formal service.
On the web: NZ Herald