X Development LLC (formerly Google X) is an American semi-secret research and development facility and organization founded by Google in January 2010, which now operates as a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. X has its headquarters about a mile and a half from Alphabet's corporate headquarters, the Googleplex, in Mountain View, California.
|Formerly||Google X (2010–2015)|
|Industry||Research and development|
On October 2, 2015, after the complete restructuring of Google into Alphabet, Google X became an independent Alphabet company and was renamed to X.
X's mission is to invent and launch "moonshot" technologies that aim to make the world a radically better place. A moonshot is defined by X as the intersection of a big problem, a radical solution, and breakthrough technology.
Project Glass is a research and development program by Google to develop an augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD). The intended purpose of Project Glass products would be the hands-free displaying of information currently available to most smartphone users, and allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands. One Google Glass costs $1500.
After a successful use of free-space optical communication (FSOC) as a part of project Loon, X decided to conduct more tests called Taara in rural areas of India. The technology uses light beams which are developed by X's office in Visakhapatnam. As of December 2017, X had set up 2,000 of these units in India, through a partnership with Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet Limited.
Waymo was a project by Google that involved developing technology for driverless cars. In December 2016, Google transitioned the project into a new company called Waymo, housed under Google's parent company Alphabet. The project was 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. 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.
Project Loon was a project of X that aimed to bring internet access to everyone by creating an internet network of balloons flying through the stratosphere. It uses wireless routers in balloons that are above weather and plans to give access to the internet to those who can't reach it or are in need of help. In July 2018, Loon graduated from X and was made a subsidiary of Alphabet. In January 2021, it was announced that the company would be shut down.
Project Wing was a project of X that aimed to rapidly deliver products across a city by using flying vehicles, similar to the Amazon Prime Air concept. At the time of the announcement on August 28, 2014, it had already been in development secretly at Google for about two years, with full-scale testing being carried out in Australia. The flying vehicles take off vertically, then rotate to a horizontal position for flying around. For delivery, it hovers and winches packages down to the ground. At the end of the tether is a small bundle of electronics which detects that the package has hit the ground, detaches from the delivery, and is pulled back up into the body of the vehicle. Dropping the cargo or landing were found to be unfeasible, as users compromised the safety.
Malta was started in July 2017 to develop renewable energy storage systems by utilizing tanks of molten salt. The system works by transforming electrical energy to heat energy for storage, based on research by Robert B. Laughlin. Malta Inc. graduated from X in December 2018 with plans to develop a large-scale test of the technology for future commercial applications.
Dandelion was spun out as a company not under the Alphabet umbrella, aiming to sell geothermal energy systems to consumers.
Makani was a project that was acquired by X in May 2013 designed to produce wind energy using kites. The T-shaped planes are 85 feet wide and contain 8 turbines tethered to the ground. Compared to wind turbines, Makani's kites require 90% less material. In December 2016, Makani's kite became the first energy kite in the world to generate electricity. In February 2019, Makani was separated from X and became a subsidiary of Alphabet.
In February 2020, Alphabet shut down Makani. The company said "Despite strong technical progress, the road to commercialization is longer and riskier than hoped." In September 2020, Makani released the Energy Kite Collection — a three-part report and accompanying collection of open source code repositories, flight logs and technical videos from the project. It also released Pulling Power from the Sky: The Story of Makani, a documentary on the project, and made a non-assertion pledge on its patent portfolio, allowing anyone to use its patents without fear of legal reprisal.
In July 2021, it was announced that a new company called Intrinsic would be spun out of X. The team had been developing software for industrial robots at X for more than five years. The new company would be led by Wendy Tan White as CEO.
- The Google Contact Lens, a smart contact lens that aims to assist people with diabetes by constantly measuring the glucose levels in their tears, was announced by Google on January 16, 2014. This project, the nanodiagnostics project to develop a cancer-detecting pill, and other life sciences efforts are now being carried out by Verily.
- Google Brain is now a deep learning research project at Google which started as an X project. Considered one of the biggest successes, this one project has produced enough value for Google to more than cover the total costs of X, according to Astro Teller.
- Google Watch (now Wear OS)
- Gcam (now Google Camera)
- Project Insight, mapping indoor spaces, now integrated into Google Maps
- Flux, a tool for designing more eco-friendly buildings
- Daydream View
- Foghorn, a project to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuel for vehicles using sea water as a source of carbon dioxide, extracted using membrane technology, and also as a source of hydrogen, using electrolysis. The project was killed by X in 2016 and the results published in 2018.
- Calcifer explored using lighter-than-air vehicles to move freight at lower cost in countries with poor transportation infrastructure. Abandoned in 2014 due to the high cost of prototyping and limited expected impact.
- The web of things, a way of connecting real-world objects to the Internet.
- Long-lasting smartphone batteries.
- 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. These were eventually revealed to be experimental floating interactive learning centers, though perhaps due to the cost of meeting federal maritime safety regulations, this project was cancelled and the barges dismantled and sold.
Projects that X has considered and rejected include a space elevator, which was deemed to be currently infeasible; a hoverboard, which was determined to be too costly relative to the societal benefits; a user-safe jetpack, which was thought to be too loud and energy-wasting; and teleportation, which was found to violate the laws of physics.
In February 2016, Astro Teller, the X "Captain of Moonshots", gave a TED talk in which he described the X approach to projects. Unusual characteristics of the approach included constantly trying to find reasons to kill off projects by tackling the hardest parts first, and both celebrating and rewarding staff when projects were killed off due to failure.
On May 17, 2018, an internal video entitled The Selfish Ledger was leaked by The Verge, regarding reshaping society through total data collection. A spokesperson stated that "This is a thought-experiment by the Design team from years ago that uses a technique known as ‘speculative design’ to explore uncomfortable ideas and concepts in order to provoke discussion and debate. It's not related to any current or future products."
A number of companies have been acquired and merged into X, covering a diverse range of skills including wind turbines, robotics, artificial intelligence, humanoid robots, robotic arms, and computer vision. In 2013, X acquired Makani Power, a US company which develops tethered wings/kites with mounted wind turbines for low cost renewable energy generation. In 2014, it acquired product design and mechanical engineering firm Gecko Design, whose previous products included the Fitbit activity tracker and low-cost computers. As of 2015, X has acquired 14 companies: among them are Redwood Robotics, Meka Robotics, Boston Dynamics, Bot & Dolly, and Jetpac. In June 2017, X sold Boston Dynamics to SoftBank Group, which later sold it to Hyundai Motor Company in December 2020.
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."
On 25 October 2018, The New York Times published an exposé entitled, "How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the 'Father of Android'". The company subsequently announced that "48 employees have been fired over the last two years" for sexual misconduct. A week after the article appeared, Google X executive Rich DeVaul resigned pursuant to a complaint of sexual harassment.
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- "Introduction to Project Glass". Google+: Project Glass. April 4, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2013 – via Google.
A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology…
- Shontell, Alyson (September 18, 2013). "Meet The Mastermind Behind Driverless Cars, Glass And More: Google's 'Chief Of Moonshots,' Astro Teller". Business Insider. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- Gertner, Jon (April 15, 2014). "The Truth About Google X: An Exclusive Look Behind The Secretive Lab's Closed Doors". Fast Company. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Astro Teller (July 23, 2016). "A Peek Inside the Moonshot Factory Operating Manual". The Team at X. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
- "The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure | Astro Teller". Retrieved April 24, 2018 – via YouTube.
- Goldman, David (April 4, 2012). "Google unveils 'Project Glass' virtual-reality glasses". Money. CNN.
- Albanesius, Chloe (April 4, 2012). "Google 'Project Glass' Replaces the Smartphone With Glasses". PC Magazine.
- Newman, Jared (April 4, 2012). "Google's 'Project Glass' Teases Augmented Reality Glasses". PCWorld.
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- "Taara - X, the moonshot factory". X, the moonshot factory. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
- Phadnis, Shilpa (February 22, 2018). "Alphabet's X provides high-speed internet without fiber in AP". The Times of India. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
- "Google X ready to set up Development Centre in Visakhapatnam". Hindustan Times. December 15, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
- U N, Sushma (December 15, 2017). "Alphabet's X will use light beams to bring the internet to millions of rural Indian households". Quartz India. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
- John Markoff (October 9, 2010). "Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
- Sebastian Thrun (October 9, 2010). "What we're driving at". The Official Google Blog. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
- "Loon". Loon.
- Koulopoulos, Thomas (July 2018). "The Moonshot to Create the Next Google". Inc. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
- Schroeder, Stan (January 22, 2021). "Alphabet gives up on balloon-powered internet". Mashable. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
- Langley, Hugh. "Google's balloon project Loon crashed, but some investors are happy with CEO Sundar Pichai putting limits on money-burning 'moonshots'". Business Insider. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
- Michelle Toh. "Alphabet is shutting down Loon, its ambitious internet balloon venture". CNN. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
- "Droning On". AOPA Pilot: 63. April 2015.
- Warwick, Graham. "Google Details 'Project Wing' Unmanned Package-Delivery R&D" Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 3, 2014. Accessed: November 5, 2014. Archived November 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine on November 5, 2014
- Kovach, Steve (July 31, 2017). "Alphabet's 'moonshot' lab has a new project to store renewable energy". Business Insider. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
- Wiggers, Kyle (December 19, 2018). "Alphabet's X lab spins out molten-salt energy storage project Malta". VentureBeat. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
- Hanley, Steve (December 21, 2018). "Google X Spins Off Malta Molten Salt Energy Storage Business". CleanTechnica. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
- Kovach, Steve. "Google's parent company spun out a new business that heats your home with geothermal energy". Business Insider. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Shankland, Stephen (May 23, 2013). "Google X acquires kite-power startup Makani". CNET. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
- Bergen, Mark (August 4, 2017). "Alphabet's Green Energy Ambitions Hit Turbulence". Bloomberg News. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
- Li, Abner (August 4, 2017). "Various clean energy moonshots at X have hit roadblocks, including Makani kite project". 9to5Google. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
- "Makani produces 1st power with 600-kW kite". Renewables Now. May 18, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
- Waters, Richard; Hook, Leslie (February 13, 2019). "Shell joins Alphabet in power-generating kites plan". Financial Times. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Lardinois, Frederic (February 19, 2020). "Alphabet takes the wind out of its Makani energy kites". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on December 18, 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
- Anderson, Mark (September 15, 2020). "Exclusive: Airborne Wind Energy Company Closes Shop, Opens Patents". IEEE Spectrum. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
- Echeverri, Paula (September 10, 2020). "Sharing Makani with the world: The Energy Kite Collection". Medium. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
- Bursztynsky, Jessica (July 23, 2021). "Alphabet launches new robotics software company Intrinsic". CNBC. Archived from the original on July 23, 2021. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
- Ridden, Paul (July 23, 2021). "Alphabet launches Intrinsic to make industrial robots easier to use". New Atlas. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
- "Introducing our smart contact lens project". January 16, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- "Why Google's Cancer-Detecting Pill Is More Than Just Hype". November 5, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- "X - Projects". X, the moonshot factory.
- "They Promised Us Jet Packs". July 23, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- "Astro Teller, Google's 'Captain of Moonshots,' on Making Profits at Google X". February 6, 2015. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- Google X Inspired: 8 Moonshots To Watch
- Lunden, Ingrid (May 2014). "Flux Emerges From Google X And Nabs $8M To Help Build Eco-Friendly Buildings". TechCrunch.
- "X - Foghorn". X, the moonshot factory.
- https://x.company/explorations/[dead link]
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- Casey Newton (October 31, 2013). "Google plans to dock mystery barge at former Army post in San Francisco". The Verge.
- Google barge mystery solved: they're for 'interactive learning centers'
- Gayomali, Chris (April 15, 2014). "Google X Confirms The Rumors: It Really Did Try To Design A Space Elevator". Fast Company. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Gayomali, Chris (April 15, 2014). "This Is Why We Don't Have Google X Hoverboards Yet". Fast Company. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Mack, Eric (May 6, 2014). "Four Crazy Google X Projects That Failed". Forbes. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- "The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure". TED. February 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- "Google's Selfish Ledger is an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering". The Verge. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
- "Google acquires kite-power generator". BBC News. May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- Miners, Zach (August 22, 2014). "Google acquires Gecko Design for next-generation products". Retrieved August 22, 2014.
- D'Angelo, Alexa (June 9, 2017). "Why Google wanted to sell – and Softbank wanted to buy – Boston Dynamics, which makes crazy robots". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
- Welch, Chris (October 25, 2018). "Google says 48 people have been fired for sexual harassment in the last two years". The Verge. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
- Musil, Steven (October 30, 2018). "Google exec accused of sexual harassment leaves company". CNET. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
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