Project Loon began with a pilot test in June 2013, when thirty balloons were launched from New Zealand’s South Island and beamed Internet to a small group of pilot testers. The pilot test has since expanded to include a greater number of people over a wider area. Looking ahead, Project Loon will continue to expand the pilot through 2014, with the goal of establishing a ring of uninterrupted connectivity around the 40th southern parallel, so that pilot testers at this latitude can receive continuous service via balloon-powered Internet.
Google’s self-driving cars may have an almost impeccable safety record, but chances are the company won’t be touting those same numbers about Project Loon — its attempt to bring Internet access to remote areas with the help of balloons — anytime soon.
According to the Yakima Herald-Republic, one of Google’s balloons crashed in a relatively remote area of Washington State last week and struck a power line. This cut the power to a small number of homes in the area at around 1 a.m. on Thursday. Power was restored at about 6 a.m.
The balloon likely launched from Nevada, where the company recently started testing in addition to its initial project in New Zealand.
“Since launching Project Loon in New Zealand last year, we’ve continued to do research flights to improve the technology,” a Google spokesperson told us when we asked about this incident. “We coordinate with local air traffic control authorities…
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