Raven Industries Collaborates with Google on Balloon Design and Manufacturing Project Bringing Internet Access to Remote Areas of the World via High Altitude Balloons

Christchurch, New Zealand, June 15, 2013 – Raven Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ: RAVN) today announced it is involved in a pilot project with Google designed to provide high-speed wireless Internet accessibility to rural, remote and underserved areas of the world.  Google plans to use Raven-designed and developed high-tech balloons as part of its new project for balloon-powered Internet access, Project Loon.

Raven Aerostar high altitude balloon used by Google in Project Loon

Raven Aerostar has been working for several months in close collaboration with Google on the design and development of this technology innovation.  While the program is still in its early stages, a successful trial began this week in New Zealand involving 30 balloons provided by Raven Aerostar providing Internet connectivity to an area covering nearly 10,000 square kilometers.

“Raven Aerostar is our balloon design partner and manufacturer of our envelopes,” said Mike Cassidy, Project Lead, Google[x].  “They bring to the project decades of expertise in high altitude balloon engineering as well as the latest breakthroughs in super pressure balloon engineering. They also helped us design the flight control system. This system controls the balloon and helps bring it down safely.”

The balloons are designed to be 60 feet tall and fly at an altitude of 66,000 feet.  The teams designed sophisticated technology that can control the path of the balloons as they move through the sky.  This technology moves the balloons up and down in the stratosphere so they can sail on the wind traveling in the right speed and direction.  This, along with software developed by Google for managing a fleet of balloons, is a significant step in turning balloons into a viable platform for providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.

“This is a very exciting day,” said Dan Rykhus, president and CEO of Raven Industries. “Solving the challenge of improved Internet access in developing nations and rural areas has the potential to improve and save lives—from improved medical care, to crisis and disaster response, to better crops for farmers struggling to feed a growing world population.”

“Stratospheric, ‘lighter than air’ balloon technology has been a core innovation for Raven Aerostar for decades,” said Lon Stroschein, vice president and general manager of Raven Aerostar.  “What’s exciting about today’s announcement is this new, elegant way of applying this technology to the challenge of Internet access for all, particularly in remote, underserved locations. We’re still in the early stages with more testing ahead, but working very closely with Google we expect, over the next few years, to make additional engineering advances and support production as the pilot project explores expanding to other countries.”

Raven Industries has been involved on the cutting edge of ‘lighter than air’ technology since the mid-50s.  The founders of the Company were part of developing modern stratospheric balloons in the mid-40s.  NASA relies on Raven Aerostar to provide balloons that carry multi-million dollar scientific instruments to altitudes above 99% of the atmosphere on a regular basis.  Its stratospheric balloons hold nearly all records for size, altitude, endurance and payload capacity for scientific balloons and even aided Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space at 128,000 feet.

“Raven is no stranger to pioneering leading-edge applications of this adaptable technology,” said Rykhus.  “The pilot tests and the next phases to follow are setting the stage for serious trail-blazing efforts in global connectivity—we’re proud to be a part of such a ground-breaking initiative.”

About Raven Industries, Inc.

Since 1956, Raven Industries has designed and manufactured high-quality, high-value technical products. Raven is publicly traded on NASDAQ (RAVN) and has earned an international reputation for innovation, product quality, high performance and unmatched service. Raven’s purpose is to solve great challenges, among them saving lives, feeding the world, energy independence and resource preservation. To realize this purpose, Raven utilizes its strengths in engineering, manufacturing and technological innovation to serve the precision agriculture, high performance specialty films, aerospace, and electronic manufacturing services markets. Visit www.RavenInd.com for more information.

About Raven Aerostar

Raven Aerostar is a division of Raven Industries consisting of wholly owned subsidiaries Aerostar International, Inc. and Vista Research, Inc.  Raven Aerostar is a world leader in the design and manufacture of highly technical aerospace, surveillance technology, electronics and specialty sewn products. Both Raven Aerostar and Raven Industries, Inc. are based in Sioux Falls, SD. The company has a rich history, solving great challenges saving lives through its unique product lines; in addition to scientific balloons, Raven Aerostar’s engineers design and manufacture tethered aerostats and persistent surveillance solutions, protective wear, parachutes, marine navigation equipment and specialty electronics. Raven Aerostar is committed to providing its customers with the innovative solutions that they require and the answers they can trust.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including statements regarding the expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. Without limiting the foregoing, the words “anticipates,” “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The company intends that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance these assumptions are correct or that these expectations will be achieved. Assumptions involve important risks and uncertainties that could significantly affect results in the future. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those relating to developing a technologically effective, environmentally sound, cost efficient solution to deliver electronics equipment to the stratosphere according to customer requirements, success of our customer’s initiatives to effectively network the balloons and connect to the Internet, development of competitive technologies to balloons, startup of large-scale balloon production without negatively impacting quality and cost, and ability to finance investment and working capital needs in excess of current credit facilities as well as other risks described in the company’s 10-K under Item 1A. This list is not exhaustive, and the company does not have an obligation to revise any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date these statements are made.

Contact Information:
Kristin Tilus, Communications Manager
Corporate Services Division
Raven Industries
605-575-0640
Kristin.Tilus@ravenind.com

Abby O’Hara, Inside Sales & Marketing Manager
Raven Aerostar
605-731-0981
Abby.Ohara@ravenind.com

 

2 comments on “Raven Industries Collaborates with Google on Balloon Design and Manufacturing Project Bringing Internet Access to Remote Areas of the World via High Altitude Balloons”

  • Judy Gaalswyk on said:

    I listened with personal interest to the SDPB Dakota Midday piece today about this Raven-Google project. My father, Dr. Arie Gaalswyk, who died 5 years ago Saturday, worked as a mathmetician and meteorologist with the early Raven balloon projects in the “60′s” (this was part-time while a mathematics professor at Augustana). He had earlier ( in the “50′s”) been a research scientist at General Mills in Minneapolis with some of the later founders of Raven Industries in Sioux Falls. As I understand it, his work involved forecasting long-range trajectories of balloons in the upper atmosphere, use of constant-pressure level balloons for collecting meteorological data, particularly atmospheric diffusion and wind variablity. He also worked on projects studying use of constant height balloon carriers for military objectives or other payloads. He would be excited about this use of balloons to bring internest access to remote areas. Thank you.

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