Google Stories June 16

Autonomous rideshare startup Waymo has announced an additional $2.5 billion investment round of funding. Waymo plans to use the additional funding, led by parent company Alphabet Inc., to hire more staff and advance its self-driving technology toward more paid rides.

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Google Stories October 16, 2019

Google announced yesterday that it will spend $150 million on green energy projects in countries where its products are made.

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Google Stories February 19, 2019

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Today in EGEB, a new bill designed to jumpstart Indiana’s solar industry looks to be stopped before it gets started. Google’s first green project in Asia. And a moratorium on North Carolina land-based wind projects ends.

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Google Stories December 13, 2018

Tesla has had a lot of turnover in its digital team over the past two years, but now we learn that they’ve lost their head of digital product to Google. expand full story

Google Stories November 30, 2017

Google is officially off-setting 100% of its energy usage with either wind or solar power. The company signed contracts on three wind power plants in recent days to bring them over 3GW of production capacity.

Google’s energy infrastructure investments have totaled over $3.5 billion globally, with about two-thirds being in the US.

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Google Stories November 7, 2017

Volkswagen has been heavily investing in batteries in order to support its planned ramp-up of electric vehicle production starting next year.

Their efforts have so far been focused on actual battery production and securing the rarer raw materials needed, like cobalt, but they are also exploring more future-oriented options to improve batteries at the technological level.

Today, VW is announcing a partnership with Google to use quantum computers to improve electric car batteries and others parts of the future of transportation, like traffic optimization and new machine learning processes. expand full story

Following eight years of development and an ongoing public awareness campaign, Waymo’s self-driving cars are now transporting passengers without a human behind the wheel. Beginning mid-October, these fully autonomous rides will expand to the public as part of a ride-hailing service in the coming months.

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Google Stories May 30, 2017

Anthony Levandowski, the ex-Googler at the center of Waymo and Uber’s legal battle, has been fired. His termination comes after a continued refusal to cooperate in proceedings over whether the ride-sharing company stole Alphabet’s self-driving technology and a scathing New Yorker piece this morning.

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Google Stories April 27, 2017

According to a report this afternoon from Business Insider, Anthony Levandowski, the subject of a dramatic legal battle between Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber over alleged stolen self-driving car technology, has stepped aside from his role as lead of Uber’s Advanced Technologies group. Levandowski will reportedly continue overseeing operations and safety, however…

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Google Stories March 14, 2017

Solar viability at Google’s Googleplex HQ

Today Google updated its Project Sunroof with some pretty striking data on approximately 60 million buildings and the viability for Solar Panels to power them. According to the search giant, almost 4 in 5 US homes are viable for solar panels with over 90% of homes in sunny states like Florida and California being viable. But even for houses in “not so sunny states” like Maine and Minnesota, over 60% of the homes surveyed were eligible to benefit from solar panels.

That’s a huge, untapped market for solar companies like Tesla’s SolarCity subsidiary…  expand full story

Google Stories February 23, 2017

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Alphabet’s Waymo subsidiary has filed a lawsuit against Uber over the theft and replication of a key self-driving component. Former employees working on Google’s self-driving project allegedly stole information before leaving for a start-up that was purchased by Uber.

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Google Stories December 19, 2016

Autodesk VRED Professional 2017 SR1

In October, we got our first look through spy shots at the Chrysler Pacifica minivans that Google has been outfitting with its self-driving technology. Today, Chrysler and Waymo, the new Alphabet company created out of Google’s self-driving effort, have officially unveiled the final design of a Chrysler Pacifica with self-driving hardware. expand full story

Google Stories December 13, 2016

An electric self-driving Chrysler Pacifica is Google's first confirmed partnership

Google has long said that it has no plans to manufacture self-driving cars itself, instead partnering with automakers, but it had been thought that it might press ahead with cars without steering wheels or pedals. However, a new report from The Information suggests that parent company Alphabet has now ‘backed off’ these plans in favor of something more conventional.

The report also echoes a much earlier one on the company’s intentions for the self-driving car project …

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Google Stories October 9, 2016

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While Tesla’s fleet recently reached 222 million miles driven on Autopilot in about a year, Google’s fleet of self-driving cars just passed the 2-million miles mark last month after 7 years on the road. As we previously discussed, Tesla’s Autopilot miles are not really equivalent to Google’s self-driving miles, but it still gives us a good indication of the speed at which each company is deploying their semi-autonomous and autonomous programs.

Now Google is about to speed up its effort by deploying a lot more vehicles through its partnership with Fiat-Chrysler to build a fleet of self-driving Pacifica, Chrysler’s new plug-in hybrid minivan. The first few prototypes were spotted in Mountain View over the weekend. expand full story

Google Stories September 23, 2016

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We have been reporting quite often on accidents involving Tesla’s Autopilot program so it’s just fair that we also let you know about accidents involving other autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle programs.

We learned that one of Google’s self-driving prototype was involved in a serious crash with a commercial van in Mountain View today. expand full story

Google Stories August 27, 2016

self-driving car wa

It feels like Google/Alphabet’s self-driving car project has been at a bit of a yellow light lately, with the recent departure of its technical lead & director Chris Urmson and other key members being the biggest sign of trouble. Now, Reuters reports that the Mountain View company has hired ex-Airbnb executive Shaun Stewart as “a director of the self-driving car project” (albeit not a replacement for Urmson), and that his role will be “to help commercialize Google’s self-driving technology.”

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Google Stories August 3, 2016

geohot driverless car

comma.ai CEO George Hotz recently praised Tesla, Google and Otto for being fairly opened about their self-driving car programs, but he is taking his own company a step further in openness with the release of a dataset of 7.25 hours of comma.ai’s prototype at work.

We’ve often discussed at Electrek how data will be extremely important in the race to create a fully self-driving car, and also in the race to get such a system approved by regulators, which is why comma.ai’s move here is particularly interesting. expand full story

Google Stories June 27, 2016

Report: Google’s self-driving car partnership with Fiat is inconsequential

According to a report today out of The Information, Google’s recently-formed partnership with Fiat Crysler to make 100 self-driving minivans is nothing more than the automobile company getting “a seat at the table” with Google. This comes as the Mountain View company struggles to find a path to actually market its self-driving technology, juggling a variety of not-so-great options that include licensing the tech to struggling automakers and entering the ridesharing business…

Google Stories June 10, 2016

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Yesterday, 9to5Mac.com reported that Apple Inc has founded a new, fully owned, subsidiary known as Apple Energy and that this entity had applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC regulates power companies) to be able to sell electricity and other power grid services to anyone that is not a public utility. Does this mean that you can now buy clean electricity made on the roof of the Apple Spaceship? Unless you are a large corporate electricity user within 10-30 miles, probably not. However if we step back and take a broader view, something interesting is happening – the likes of Apple, Google, Ikea and others including even Walmart are showing us a small piece of the future of much smarter electricity grid owned by many instead of the few.

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Google Stories June 9, 2016

ehang 184 2

Earlier this year, we wrote a profile on an interesting startup, Zee Aero, developing a battery-powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft near Google’s X lab. The company caught our attention when it started hiring talent from NASA, Tesla and Stanford.

At the time, we couldn’t confirm where the money was coming from, but today we learn that Alphabet’s billionaire CEO Larry Page is secretively behind the electric aircraft startup, reportedly financing it with over $100 million, and even setting up a competing startup, Kitty Hawk, to test another model.

The group’s proximity with Google led a lot of people to believe it was financed by the tech giant, but in fact, Page is financing the initiative himself and not through Alphabet or Google Ventures.  expand full story

Google Stories June 2, 2016

May’s self-driving car report details how Google teaches its cars to honk

Every month, Google puts out a report for its self-driving car project. There’s not that much new this month besides the usual updated running totals (miles driven, number of vehicles on the road, etc.), but the Mountain View company did take some time to detail something that many may not have thought about yet: how it’s teaching the cars to honk…

Google Stories May 27, 2016

Nest CEO Tony Fadell is behind the Actev Motors Arrow Smart-Kart

According to an alleged Nest engineer a couple months back, the company is on deathwatch. Of course the official word from Fadell himself is that all the bad PR doesn’t represent the company or its culture, but the evidence suggests still that financially and culturally there are lots of problems.

Now, we learn today (via Fortune) that Tony Fadell, Nest’s CEO, has had a little passion project going on in the background. Co-founded with its CEO Dave Bell, Actev Motors makes the Arrow Smart-Kart, a smart first of its kind electric go-kart with app controls and a $600 price tag…

Google Stories May 25, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.23.04 PM

Google today announced that it will open a self-driving car technology development center in Novi, Michigan, which is about 30 miles outside of Detroit. Google has had teams working from Detroit for the past few years, but this marks the company’s first physical presence in the area.

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Google Stories May 24, 2016

Tesla Autopilot miles driven 1

Today the company released new data related to its Autopilot program and is now reporting “~100 million miles” driven with Autopilot active. The figure includes Autosteer and/or Traffic -Aware Cruise Control – the Autopilot’s main convenience features. expand full story

Google Stories May 17, 2016

Google self-driving pioneers think big-rigs could get there before cars, started company to prove it

Fifteen former Google engineers, including long-time self-driving pioneer Anthony Levandowski, have left the company to create Otto, a start-up based on bringing partial autonomous driving to big-rig trucks.

As the NYT notes, the start-up has great creds: Levandowski designed a self-driving motorcycle while still a grad student, and his first start-up was acquired by Google. Co-founder Lior Ron was previously lead engineer on Google Maps.

Otto’s plan differs from Google’s self-driving car project in two ways …

Google Stories May 4, 2016

Google Stories May 3, 2016

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, a plug-in
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Following a report this morning from Bloomberg suggesting that Google and Chrysler were about to announce a deal that would see Google’s self-driving technology being implemented in Chrysler’s upcoming new Pacifica minivan, the CEOs of both companies have now confirmed an agreement albeit not exactly what was being discussed earlier today.

While this morning’s report suggested a plan to work on a few “dozens of self-driving prototypes” in order to later bring the technology to the production version of the Pacifica, instead the deal would now see Google buying about 100 Pacifica minivans from Chrysler to use as prototypes,  but no exactly like it does with its current Lexus SUVs, and the Mountain View company will provide a “technological crash course” in self-driving technology to Chrysler though the new partnership. expand full story

chrysler-pacifica

Four months ago, Chrysler unveiled its 2017 Pacifica minivan range at the Detroit Auto Show. If a report from Bloomberg is anything to go by, this Pacifica Hybrid range could feature Google’s self-driving technology, bringing weeks/months of rumors to fruition. The deal could be signed by Tuesday…

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Google Stories April 29, 2016

BRAVENCE-CEO-FORBES-fiat-chrysler-ceo-sergio-marchionne-3

The automotive industry is a capital-intensive industry. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne knows it and that’s why he is open to work with Google or Apple:

“Google can buy every automaker out of petty cash. And Apple — they made a net profit of $24 billion in one quarter. This is nonsense. What are we defending? What?”

In a not yet released 2-hour interview with Automobile Mag‘s Georg Kache, Marchionne discusses the recent rumors of a FCA partnership with Google for self-driving cars and how the automaker wants to position itself in an industry disrupted by the likes of Apple, Google, Tesla and Uber.  expand full story

Google Stories April 28, 2016

self-driving-car

A report from AutoExtremist (later corroborated by The Wall Street Journal) says today that Alphabet/Google is in the late stages of discussing an “advanced technical partnership” with London-based Fiat Chrysler, citing sources with direct knowledge of the discussions…

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Google Stories April 26, 2016

self-driving-carGoogle joins Uber, Ford, Volvo and Lyft in forming a Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets to promote self driving car regulations on a federal level versus state by state level. Google has been battling the California DMV who have proposed to ban Google’s Koala car that does not have a steering wheel or pedals and would not require a licensed driver.

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Google Stories April 22, 2016

google-car

The California legislature is worried that the CA DMV is running off potential business from the state with its draft rules on self-driving cars.  A bill was proposed to force the CA DMV to allow driverless operations and testing of cars like the ones Google has created with no steering wheel or pedals. The bill recently was approved in the transportation committee 14-0 to move to the appropriations committee. Now, assembly member Mike Gatto of Los Angeles — sponsor of the legislation — has provided comments on the legislation:

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Google Stories April 13, 2016

Proposed CA bill hopes to put Google’s driverless prototype cars in the regulatory clear

Truly autonomous vehicles are poised to be an exciting technology, but as with any other technology, there are always regulatory hurdles to be cleared. As first spotted by public records sleuth Mark Harris, a bill working its way through the California legislature would require the state’s DMV to effectively legalize Google’s ambitions of having a driverless fleet of self-driving Koala cars…

Google Stories April 11, 2016

google tesla

We’ve covered how Tesla’s approach to self-driving cars differs from Google’s. The former is incrementally introducing more advanced autonomous features to eventually get to full autonomy, while the latter thinks it is safer to make the jump to completely autonomous driving once the technology is at maturity.

The two companies also have different approaches to hardware. Google relies on LiDAR, while Tesla thinks it’s unnecessary and that a combination of cameras and radars should do the job. Only time will tell which strategy will turn out to be the most successful, but in the meantime, Tesla shared a rare data point that gives us some perspective on the two programs. expand full story

Google Stories April 7, 2016

Google’s self-driving cars headed to Phoenix to see how they handle ‘extreme temperatures and dust’

‘Extreme temperatures and dust’ may not be the most flattering description of Phoenix, Arizona, but it’s the reason Google cites for naming the city as its fourth testing ground for its fleet of self-driving cars.

Reuters reports that Google is currently using four Lexus RX450h SUVs to create the detailed map of “streets, lane markers, traffic signals and curb heights” needed to allow the self-driving cars to operate.

‘The Phoenix area has distinct desert conditions, which will help us better understand how our sensors and cars handle extreme temperatures and dust in the air,’ said the project’s head of business operations Jennifer Haroon.

There is, though, a second – and more flattering – reason for the choice …

Google Stories April 5, 2016

Google car project nabs ex-Apple global supply manager w/ experience delivering millions of iPhones and Watches

Reuters last month reported that Google has been bolstering its self-driving car team as of late, and now as April rolls in, we’ve uncovered some more information on new hires as the team continues to expand. In one case, Google has added an ex-Apple global supply manager for the iPhone and the Apple Watch to the self-driving car supply management team…

Google Stories April 4, 2016

google-self-driving-car-road-works-speed-limit

Google/Alphabet published its self-driving car report for March over the weekend, and besides of course the latest numbers (including the number of cars in each city, the total number of autonomous and manual driven miles, etc.), there are also some new details on the system the company uses to map the cars’ surroundings, and mention of a mundane accident that happened in Austin, Texas involving one of the company’s Lexus vehicles…

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Google Stories March 30, 2016

tesla-glass

We reported last week that Tesla is using wearable tech to increase production efficiency at its factory, and cited knowledge of a promotional video that Google made in collaboration with Tesla as reason to believe that the company was using Glass hardware. Now, we have clips to share from that video to prove that, indeed, Tesla Motors did at one time trial using Google’s wearable at its Fremont factory…

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Google Stories March 21, 2016

Manufacturing - APX Labs 2015-08-11 12-39-09

Google Glass Enterprise Edition has been leaked in full at this point, but what good is new enterprise-focused hardware unless it’s being used in the field? APX Labs, one of Google’s Glass at Work partners, has confirmed on its site that it has signed renowned maker of electric vehicles Tesla Motors as a client, and there is speculation that the company is using the latest unannounced Glass hardware to increase productivity at its Fremont factory…

Update: While multiple people close to the situation say that Tesla is still deploying both Glass and Vuzix hardware in some capacity at Fremont and running trials to compare the platforms, Tesla has reached out saying that “Tesla does not use Glass hardware in the Tesla Factory”. It seems that, while we’re confident Glass was at Fremont at one point, the company has recently moved away from Google’s platform. A person says that Google engineers were at one point referring clients like Tesla to Vuzix while the Enterprise Edition was in development.

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Google Stories March 9, 2016

goog accident aftermath

A new video with multiple angles and new pictures of the Google’s self-driving car hitting a bus last week and its aftermath have been released today. The accident is believed to be the first where Google’s system could be found at fault. expand full story

Google Stories February 29, 2016

google-self-driving-car

Update: Video of the damage has surfaced on YouTube, see below.

In what is likely to become its first accident to be officially documented as at the fault of Google, one of the Mountain View company’s self-driving cars struck a public transit bus earlier this month while trying to get around a sandbag in the road. According to the accident report filed with the California DMV, the car was “traveling at less than 2 mph”  and struck the bus as it passed on its left side…

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Google Stories February 15, 2016

self-driving car

According to a report over the weekend from Crain’s Detroit Business, Google/Alphabet is seeking an R&D site for its self-driving cars near Ann Arbor, Michigan. This report comes as FCC documents last month revealed that the Mountain View company was planning to bring the cars to four new cities. Kirkland, Washington officially became one of those locations two weeks ago, and as we noted, a location near Ann Arbor makes perfect sense to be one of the next bunch… expand full story

Google Stories February 12, 2016

flagship-1

The Guardian spotted a slew of new job listings for Google’s self-driving car project, ranging from a marketing manager to manufacturing process engineers. In all, the company has advertised 36 jobs in the autonomous car division – though none of them are for (non-) drivers

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Google Stories February 9, 2016

google-self-driving-cars

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has announced today that it will recognize Google’s self-driving car system as a legal driver. The announcement comes after Chris Urmson, the head of Google’s self-driving car project, petitioned that the government treat the initiative the same as it does normal driver cars.

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google-self-driving-car

A new patent that surfaced on Tuesday (via Qz) suggests that Google/Alphabet could have plans to use its self-driving car technologies for a truck-based delivery service. The patent describes an “autonomous delivery platform” for an autonomous truck with lockers (not unlike an Amazon locker), driving to a customer’s location to deliver a package… expand full story

Google Stories February 6, 2016

google-driverless-cars

While Google has expanded its US-based autonomous vehicle trials to include both Texas and Kirkland, WA since its launch in Mountain View, it seems the company is being courted by another city across the pond. London transport officials are said to be in “active discussions” with Google to convince the tech giant to test its driverless cars in England’s capital…

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Google Stories February 5, 2016

self-driving car

According to some FCC documents recently unearthed, Alphabet’s X division (formerly Google[x]) has its sights set on disconnecting the cute fully-electric self-driving car prototypes from their wall chargers. Yes, we’re talking wireless charging, the kind that could beam up energy through the bottom of the car using a technology called resonant magnetic induction…

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Google Stories February 3, 2016

google-self-driving-car

Last week we told you that four more mysterious cities are set to get Alphabet’s self-driving cars in the relatively near future, and now the California company has said (via Reuters) that the next city on the list—following Mountain View, CA and Austin, TX— is Kirkland, Washington…

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