Google has a number of unique initiatives on the go at any given time, and Project Loon has to be one of the more interesting ones. Using giant helium filled balloons flying through the stratosphere for days on end, the project's goal is to offer fast internet access to those in places on the ground without it.
Along with a number of discoveries on how to run the system more efficiently, Google has figured out how to keep the balloons in the air for longer than they ever had before.
Over the past year, the balloons have traveled a distance of around 3 million kilometers (about the same as traveling around the globe 75 times), but could only stay in there the air for a limited length of time before being re-deployed. Loon balloons can now stay airborne for 10 times as long as they could back in 2013 and can generally stay in the air for about 100 days. The current record is 130 days, according to Google. The extended fly-time is due to "hundreds of discoveries" that have helped to prevent leaks and to refine the automated manufacturing process.
On top of new auto-fill equipment that drops times down to just 5 minutes, Google says it now has the capability to launch up to 20 balloons a day as it continues to improve its "ability to launch consistently at scale."