We expected something close to this to happen and today, Google has affirmed that a balloon involved in its internet Project Loon caused a black out of electricity for some residents in US in Washington town last week. According to NBC News, the balloon was “in the process of a controlled landing” an hour past midnight when it took out a few electrical lines. The company claims that before it landed it had notified the aviation authorities to avoid any risk of interference with nearby air traffic.
Can these balloons be controlled?
It’s not for certain that such an incident or worse will never occur again as the company cannot confirm that these balloons won’t cause any wreak havoc once they’re closer to the ground and this is due to several factors like wind gusts which are unsuspected.
Google says that it has apparently done in-depth research to prevent (or significantly reduce) accidents like these. According to the project loon website, balloons are normally brought down over “preselected, safe recovery zones.” They’re all equipped with parachutes designed to automatically deploy if a balloon is falling too fast; these also help slow down emergency landings if and when they prove necessary.
Project Loon is one of Google’s initiatives that aims to beam down internet access to remote and rural areas that ordinarily receive poor connectivity — or none at all. We only hope by hey time they are deployed here in Africa all “lab rat” experiments have been concluded.