Raven Industries Produces Balloons For Google
by Jill Johnson
June 17, 2013 6:02 PM
It was nine months ago that Google contacted Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, about helping them provide internet access to remote areas of the world. Ever since, the company has been hard at work making balloons that will allow them to do it. As we speak, those balloons are on a trial run.
Raven Industries President & CEO Daniel Rykhus said, "Two out of three people on the planet don't have access to the internet. Here in the U.S. and in South Dakota, we take it for granted."
Something that we take for granted is something Google hopes to make a possibility, with the help of Raven Industries.
Rykhus said, "The last nine months, we've rolled up our sleeves and worked collaboratively with Google X and designed a balloon solution that will suit their needs and we've been busy producing these balloons."
Raven Industries has developed and manufactured a 60 foot tall balloon that can carry a package well above where planes can fly, a balloon that can fly high into the stratosphere where there are layers of wind.
"What the Raven Aerostar part of this systems does is basically carry the package to 65,000 feet and holds it at 65,000 feet for up to 100 days and of course, the balloon will float along with the wind so it's not stationary and our technology really provides the lift," said Rykhus.
After that it's up to Google. With the technology they've designed, the balloons will talk to the special internet antennas on the ground. The balloons will also communicate with other balloons which will then talk back to the internet provider. They can even control the path of the balloons as they move through the sky. With the balloons bunched together, they can provide coverage to rural parts of the world.
Rykhus said, "This has the potential to, with the networking capabilities, to cover very large parts of the world."
Right now, a team is testing 30 balloons in New Zealand. With this test run, and more to come, Google and Raven hope their network in the sky, will one day become a reality.
When the 100 days is up, the team can navigate the balloons to a certain area to reuse or recycle the parts. If the technology works, people will have access to internet for just a fraction of the price of satellite service. The team from Sioux Falls is expected to return from New Zealand on Wednesday.