When Google began testing its Wi-Fi enabling balloons, the company probably wasn’t expecting to cause panic in New Zealand. The Wall Street Journal writes that the country’s emergency services were contacted on Friday after one of the tech giant’s balloons was mistaken for a crashing plane. A rescue helicopter was sent to investigate the presumed wreckage, which was reported to be seen off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Google has confirmed that one of its balloons had indeed landed in the sea. The Wall Street Journal was later told that it was difficult to keep balloons in one place because of wind conditions. Revealed last year, Google’s Project Loon involves deploying hundreds of these balloons in an attempt to provide Internet coverage to remote locations throughout the world. Unfortunately, the company’s endeavors have also caused some complications and were recently responsible for knocking out power lines in a Washington town.
Google ‘s Wi-Fi enabling balloons caused panic in New Zealand Friday when it was mistaken for a crashing plane. Google has been testing its balloons – part of a trial known as Project Loon—in the lower South Island of New Zealand this week when one of the balloons returning to earth was mistaken for a crashing plane. New Zealand emergency services were called early Friday by someone concerned they had seen a plane crash off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, New Zealand police communications spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. A rescue helicopter was sent to the site but rather than finding wreckage of a plane, one of the Internet giant’s large balloons was located. Google has been undertaking tests of its radio-equipped balloons in New Zealand, which fly twice as high as commercial aircrafts, since June last year. Google confirmed one its balloons had landed in the sea off New Zealand’s coasts. The company says it is difficult to keep the balloons in one place because of prevailing winds so the project is based on the notion of the balloons riding the winds. “Since launching Project Loon in New Zealand last year, we’ve continued to do research flights to improve the technology,” a Google spokesman told the Wall Street Journal in an email. He said the company coordinated with local traffic control authorities and there was a team dedicated to recovering the balloons when they land.