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Image credit: Google Project Loon

Project Loon shows off autolauncher at work in Puerto Rico

The 55 foot crane can "fill, lift and launch a tennis-court sized balloon in under 30 minutes."

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Google Project Loon

With Project Loon, Google aims to provide wireless, high-speed internet to underserved areas like the entire nation of Sri Lanka. The team has figured out how to guide them around the globe using prevailing, high-altitude winds and the current design can stay aloft for nearly 100 days. To start delivering a service, Google just needs to get lots of balloons in the air, and that's where the portable autolaunchers come in. First revealed last May, Google recently showed off how it launched a Project Loon balloon in Puerto Rico in just a half-hour using the 55-foot tall crane-like device.

Gallery: Project Loon autolaunching operation in Puerto Rico | 7 Photos

The team said that the portable autolaunchers "allow us to move our whole operation to places that give us access to favorable wind patterns that can help us provide internet connectivity around the world." They also keep the balloons out of stiff breezes until the moment of launch, providing greater control. The balloons can now communicate with each other in the air, so the Project Loon team just needs eight ground stations and a network of balloons to provide full wireless coverage to a region. The system is expected to be deployed some time this year in regions of Latin America, West Africa and Asia.

Steve should have known that engineering was not for him when he spent most of his time at university monkeying with his 8086 clone PC. Although he graduated, a lifelong obsession of wanting the "solitaire" win animation to go faster had begun. Always seeking a gadget fix, he dabbles in photography, video, 3D-animation, and is a licensed private pilot. He followed l'amour de sa vie from Vancouver, BC to France, and now lives near Paris.
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