5 Google moonshot projects you didn't know about
While most of us know Google as a search giant, only a few know about its other bets in the field of technology. Yes, before Alphabet came into being, Google had started several moonshot projects to make the world a better place. Many of these were killed on the way but many are still running under Alphabet. Let's take a look at them.
While cables remain an ideal source of connectivity, they can't be deployed in every part of the world. This is why Google started project Loon, a mission to establish a network of air balloons that would fly in the stratosphere, delivering internet to everyone. Loon balloons have already flown over 30 million kms in tests and helped people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Under the Makani project, Google has been experimenting with kites to harness wind energy and contribute to a sustainable future. The kites look like a subscale plane with multiple propellers and generate up to 600kW of energy - enough to power 300 homes. They fly crosswind, which spins their rotors and generates power that is finally sent to the ground-based grid through a tether.
While Makani kites generate renewable energy, Malta is working on a technology to store that energy for emergencies, like when winds are not strong enough. The whole system revolves around storing electricity in the form of heat inside large tanks of molten salt and a chilled liquid. Following this, the energy is kept safe and can be deployed to the grid whenever needed.
With Free Space Optical Communication, aka FSOC, Alphabet has been using light for high-speed transmission between two points. The tech came to be during the development of Project Loon and is now being repurposed to solve connectivity problems down here on Earth. Basically, it can deliver fiber-like speeds at places (and countries) where it might be impossible to lay underground cable lines.
Alphabet has also been advancing and testing AI-powered self-flying drones that can deliver food, medical supplies and a lot of other stuff. These UAVs beat the mess of traffic and pollution by flying some 400ft above the ground at 120kmph. Ultimately, the Google parent wants to automate the system completely for making goods accessible in a faster, cheaper, and more environmental friendly way.