Google X

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Google X, stylized as Google[x],[1] is a semi-secret facility run by Google dedicated to making major technological advancements. It is located about a half mile from Google's corporate headquarters, the Googleplex, in Mountain View, California.[2][3] Work at the lab is overseen by Sergey Brin, one of Google's co-founders, while scientist and entrepreneur Astro Teller directs day-to-day activities.[4][5] Teller says that they aim to improve technologies by a factor of 10, and to develop "science fiction-sounding solutions."[6][7] The lab began in 2010 with the development of a self-driving car.[5]


There are eight projects being developed at Google X.[8] Projects that have been revealed are Google's self-driving car, Google Glass eyewear that includes a screen and camera, a wind energy company called Makani Power, Google Contact Lenses that monitor blood glucose levels,[9] and Project Loon, which provides internet service via balloons in the stratosphere.[10] an artificial neural network for speech recognition and computer vision;[11] and the web of things.[3][12]

Projects that Google X has considered and rejected include a space elevator, which was deemed to be currently unfeasible;[13] a hoverboard, which was determined to be too costly relative to the societal benefits;[14] a user-safe jetpack, which was thought to be too loud and energy-wasting;[15] and teleportation, which was found to violate the laws of physics.[15]

While Google X projects are often referred to as "moonshots" within the company, not all so-described moonshots are part of Google X. For example, Calico, Google's life extension project, is considered a moonshot but is not a part of Google X.[16] The same is true of Google's project to build robots for businesses.[17]

In October 2013, the existence of four Google barges was revealed, with the vessels registered under the dummy corporation By And Large. Two of the barges have a superstructure whose construction has been kept under the utmost secrecy, while speculations indicate they could be used as marketing for, and stores for, Google Glass.[18]

Project Glass[edit]

Project Glass is a research and development program by Google to develop an augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD).[19] The intended purpose of Project Glass products would be the hands-free displaying of information currently available to most smartphone users,[20] and allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands.[21]

Google driverless car[edit]

The Google driverless car is a project by Google that involves developing technology for driverless cars. The project is currently being led by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View. Thrun's team at Stanford created the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and its US$2 million prize from the United States Department of Defense.[22] The team developing the system consisted of 15 engineers working for Google, including Chris Urmson, Mike Montemerlo, and Anthony Levandowski who had worked on the DARPA Grand and Urban Challenges.[23]

The U.S. state of Nevada passed a law in June 2011 concerning the operation of driverless cars in Nevada. Google had been lobbying for driverless car laws.[24][25][26] The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google's experimental driver-less technology.[27] In August 2012, the team announced that they have completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles accident-free, typically have about a dozen cars on the road at any given time, and are starting to test them with single drivers instead of in pairs.[28]

Project Loon[edit]

Project Loon is a project that aims to bring internet access to everyone by creating an internet network of balloons flying through the stratosphere.[citation needed]

Google Contact Lens[edit]

Google Contact Lens were announced on January 16, 2014 with the goal of allowing diabetics to continually check their glucose levels using a non-intrusive method.[29]


On 23 May 2013 Google X acquired Makani Power, a US company which develops tethered wings/kites with mounted wind turbines for low cost renewable energy generation.[30]


A reporter from Bloomberg Businessweek visited the site in 2013 and described it as "ordinary two-­story red-brick buildings about a half-mile from Google’s main campus. There's a burbling fountain out front and rows of company-issued bikes, which employees use to shuttle to the main campus."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Introduction to Project Glass". Google+: Project Glass. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2013. ""A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology…"" 
  2. ^ a b Stone, Brad (2013-05-22). "Inside Google's Secret Lab". Businessweek. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  3. ^ a b Cain Miller, Claire; Bilton, Nick (November 13, 2011). "Google’s Lab of Wildest Dreams". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ Shontell, Alyson (18 September 2013). "Meet The Mastermind Behind Driverless Cars, Glass And More: Google's 'Chief Of Moonshots,' Astro Teller". Business Insider. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Gertner, Jon (15 April 2014). "The Truth About Google X: An Exclusive Look Behind The Secretive Lab's Closed Doors". Fast Company. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Rowan, David (31 October 2013). "Astro Teller of Google[x] wants to improve the world's broken industries". Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Secret Google lab 'rewards failure'". Newsnight. BBC. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Douglas Macmillan; Rolfe Winkler (27 May 2014). "Google’s Prototype for Autonomous Driving Has No Steering Wheel". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Ingraham, Nathan (16 January 2014). "Google X building 'smart' contact lens to measure glucose levels for diabetics". The Verge. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Lardinois, Frederic (14 June 2013). "Google X Announces Project Loon: Balloon-Powered Internet For Rural, Remote And Underserved Areas". TechCrunch. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Markoff, John (June 25, 2012). "How Many Computers to Identify a Cat? 16,000". The New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ Stone, Brad (22 May 2013). "Inside Google's Secret Lab". Businessweek. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  13. ^ Gayomali, Chris (15 April 2014). "Google X Confirms The Rumors: It Really Did Try To Design A Space Elevator". Fast Company. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Gayomali, Chris (15 April 2014). "This Is Why We Don't Have Google X Hoverboards Yet". Fast Company. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Mack, Eric (6 May 2014). "Four Crazy Google X Projects That Failed". Forbes. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  16. ^ Harry McCracken; Lev Grossman (18 September 2013). "Google vs. Death". Time. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Markoff, John (4 December 2013). "Google Puts Money on Robots, Using the Man Behind Android". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  18. ^ Casey Newton. "Google plans to dock mystery barge at former Army post in San Francisco". The Verge. 
  19. ^ Goldman, David (4 April 2012). "Google unveils 'Project Glass' virtual-reality glasses". Money (CNN). 
  20. ^ Albanesius, Chloe (4 April 2012). "Google 'Project Glass' Replaces the Smartphone With Glasses". PC Magazine. 
  21. ^ Newman, Jared (4 April 2012). "Google's 'Project Glass' Teases Augmented Reality Glasses". PCWorld. 
  22. ^ John Markoff (2010-10-09). "Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  23. ^ Sebastian Thrun (2010-10-09). "What we're driving at". The Official Google Blog. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  24. ^ "Nevada enacts law authorizing autonomous (driverless) vehicles". Green Car Congress. 2011-06-25. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  25. ^ Alex Knapp (2011-06-22). "Nevada Passes Law Authorizing Driverless Cars". Forbes. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  26. ^ John Markoff (2011-05-10). "Google Lobbies Nevada To Allow Self-Driving Cars". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  27. ^ Mary Slosson (2012-05-08). "Google gets first self-driven car license in Nevada". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-05-09. 
  28. ^ Official Blog: The self-driving car logs more miles on new wheels Posted: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 by Chris Urmson, Engineering Lead
  29. ^ Brian Otis; Babak Parviz (2014-01-16). "Introducing our smart contact lens project". Google. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  30. ^ "Google acquires kite-power generator". BBC News. Retrieved 23 May 2013.