driverless Stories February 2, 2015

Update: When reached for comment, Google pointed us to its Twitter account’s response (below), which it said is accurate. While it doesn’t directly address the reports, it does seem to hint Google is working on a Lyft-style ride-sharing app and that it doesn’t view it as a direct competitor to Uber. Following the original reports, Uber made its announcement official on its website.

[tweet https://twitter.com/google/status/562392039459807232 align=’center’]

Update 2: Google has reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that the app in question is a carpooling app created by one of its engineers for Google employees. It is said to be unrelated to Google’s self-driving car.

Uber, the app-based car service in which Google is an investor, is about to announce a new investment into building its own fleet of driverless vehicles, according to a report from TechCrunch. Although the specific details are unclear at this point, the report comes just as news breaks that Google is developing its own ride-sharing app that could be a possible competitor to Uber. expand full story

driverless Stories May 22, 2013

Bloomberg goes inside Google’s X research lab

Bloomberg published a nice read this morning following a tour of Google’s secretive X lab and a chat with some of the employees that work there. In the story Bloomberg talks Google Glass development, driverless cars, and lesser known X projects, speaks with Mary Lou Jepsen who heads up the Google X Display Division, and provides some insight into how the whole thing got started.

Some of the real projects in Google X sound almost as outlandish. Makani Power’s newest airborne turbine prototype, called Wing 7, is a 26-foot-long carbon-fiber contraption with four electricity-generating propellers that flies in circles at altitudes of 800 to 2,000 feet, sending power down a lightweight tether to a base station. “If we’re successful, we can get rid of a huge part of the fossil fuels we use,” says Damon Vander Lind, the startup’s chief engineer. Vander Lind acknowledges it might not work, but: “If you don’t take that chance, and put a decade of your life trying to do it, no progress will get made.”

Then there’s X’s still-secret project to bring Internet access to undeveloped parts of the world. A decade ago, David Grace, a senior research fellow at the University of York, spearheaded a project to mount broadband transmitters on high-altitude balloons, as part of a multicountry initiative backed by the European Commission, called the Capanina Consortium. The initiative never progressed beyond the experimental stage. Grace now says that he has heard that Google is working on such balloon-based broadband technology.

driverless Stories May 7, 2013

(Googlers turned Sergey Brin’s Tesla Model S into a pink Batmobile for April Fool’s Day)

According to a report from Bloomberg, Tesla’s Elon Musk has discussed with Google the possibility of adding self driving vehicle technology to its fleet of all-electric cars. The problem, says Musk, is that Google’s approach to the technology is currently too expensive compared to camera-based systems:

“The problem with Google’s current approach is that the sensor system is too expensive,” Musk said. “It’s better to have an optical system, basically cameras with software that is able to figure out what’s going on just by looking at things… “We’ve had some technical discussions with Google” about its Light Detection and Ranging, or Lidar, laser tracking system, Musk said last week, noting that it’s an expensive approach that may not prove feasible, Musk said.

While it’s possible Google could contribute to bringing the driverless features to future Tesla vehicles, Musk told Bloomberg it’s more likely the company will develop its own “autopilot system”. That’s something that other automakers are already doing with Toyota, Lexus, and Audi all showing off self-driving car technology at CES back in January: expand full story

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