Alphabet to make Loon, Wing projects independent companies

Loon and Wing are graduating from X, Alphabet's secretive incubator known as the "moonshot factory".

Loon's huge balloons navigate wind currents in the stratosphere, roughly 13 miles above ground, to cluster around areas with poor connectivity. "Wing is building a drone delivery system to improve the speed, cost, and environmental impact of transporting goods, and an unmanned-traffic management platform to safely route drones through our skies".

"X's job is to create radical new technologies and build a bridge from an idea to a proven concept", said moonshot's "captain" Astro Teller in a blog post. Meanwhile, Wing is a newer initiative to deliver packages via drone aircraft.

Wing tested the aircraft in Australia a year ago, delivering burritos and medicine to customers who ordered the items on a Wing mobile app. Technical hurdles remain, such as delivering in urban areas, and while the regulations may pose a bigger challenge, Wing has worked hard to ideal its technology since it began in 2012, at one point scrapping its entire design.

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Another pair of Google's "moonshots" is graduating from the experimental stage into full-fledged companies.

Alphabet said Loon has most recently brought Internet connectivity to people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island a year ago.

As with others in the "Other Bets" category, the two projects will continue the missions they started at X. Loon, which uses high-altitude balloons to blanket regions with wireless coverage, will continue to work with carriers worldwide to provide Internet access to under-connected and unconnected people.

While Alphabet has kept some of its projects under wraps, Teller said the latest moves will allow the company to concentrate on "new moonshot adventures", and ongoing projects including Google Glass, robotics and wireless optical communications.

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