Alphabet’s Loon hands the reins of its internet air balloons to self-learning AI

Alphabet’s Loon, the team responsible for beaming internet down to Earth from stratospheric helium balloons, has achieved a new milestone: its navigation system is no longer run by human-designed software.



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© Image: Loon


Instead, the company’s internet balloons are steered around the globe by an artificial intelligence — in particular, a set of algorithms both written and executed by a deep reinforcement learning-based flight control system that is more efficient and adept than the older, human-made one. The system is now managing Loon’s fleet of balloons over Kenya, where Loon launched its first commercial internet service in July after testing its fleet in a series of disaster relief initiatives and other test environments for much of the last decade.

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Loon’s internet balloons are now piloted by an AI flight control system

Similar to how researchers have achieved breakthrough AI advances in teaching computers to play sophisticated video games

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