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
Work at X is overseen by entrepreneur scientist Astro Teller
, as CEO and "Captain of Moonshots".
The lab started with the development of Google's self-driving car
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 involves developing technology for driverless car
s. 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 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
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.
The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google's experimental driver-less technology.
, Google had test driven their fleet of vehicles, in autonomous mode, a total of .
Project Loon was a project of X that aims 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 aims 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.
Google Details 'Project Wing' Unmanned Package-Delivery R&D
''Aviation Week & Space Technology'', November 3, 2014. Accessed: November 5, 2014. on November 5, 2014
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
. 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.
* 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
* Project Insight
* 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, while speculations indicate they could be used as marketing for, and stores for, Google Glass. However, these are merely speculations. Others have suggested that it might be used as a floating data center.
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;
, 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
, artificial intelligence
, humanoid robot
s, 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
* Artificial intelligence
* Glossary of artificial intelligence
* Google Labs
* Skunkworks project
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