Two of Google’s best-known flights of fancy, Project Loon and Project Wing, are being hatched from their X incubator to become independent businesses under the wing of Alphabet, Google’s holding company.
Loon will work with mobile network operators globally to bring internet access to a market of billions of people currently without high-speed connections.
Seattle science-fiction author Octavia E. Butler passed away in 2006, but she’s getting timely good wishes today on what would have been her 71st birthday in the form of a Google Doodle tribute.
The black writer’s work broke the “white guys with lasers” mold for science fiction by telling stories that reflected the future-day diversity she wanted to see in present-day society. Not in a preachy way, but in the form of more than a dozen thought-provoking, award-winning novels and shorter works.
In 1995, she was the first science-fiction writer to win a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and four years later she moved from her native California to Seattle. She died unexpectedly at the age of 58 after falling and striking her head on a walkway outside her home.
Google Cloud and AGI (a.k.a. Analytical Graphics Inc.) have gotten on board with the B612 Asteroid Institute to develop a cloud-based platform for keeping track of asteroid discoveries.
The two companies have become technology partners for the Asteroid Decision Analysis and Mapping project, or ADAM, which aims to provide the software infrastructure for analyzing the trajectories of near-Earth objects, identifying potential threats, and sizing up the scenarios for taking action if necessary.
But today’s rapid pace of innovation and competition is increasing the pressure to turn blue-sky ideas into marketable products and services. No company, not even Alphabet, can afford to bet on every hunch. So X’s aim is to systematize the process of picking winning technologies.
“We are trying to be the card counters of innovation, not the gamblers of innovation,” Teller said.
When it comes to providing global broadband internet coverage, two satellite constellations in low Earth orbit are better than one. At least that’s the implication of a patent application filed by an inventor who used to work at Google and is now part of SpaceX’s Seattle-area satellite operation.
X is reportedly planning to create an online exchange called Wing Marketplace, which would let customers order food and other goods and have them delivered within minutes via drone for a $6 fee.
The inside look at Wing Marketplace is based on interviews with former X employees, and none of the companies involved was willing to comment.
Among the retailers who are said to have been contacted: Whole Foods Market, Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks. Starbucks declined to sign on, reportedly because of concerns over “X’s control of the user experience.”
Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries says it’s made a deal with Terra Bella to have the Google subsidiary’s Earth-observing satellites launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next year.
The agreement makes Terra Bella, which was known as Skybox Imaging before Google bought it for $500 million in 2014, the lead payload provider on a dedicated-rideshare mission arranged through Spaceflight Industries’ launch services entity, known simply as Spaceflight.
“At this point, it looks like Terra Bella may be the only lead,” Spaceflight’s president, Curt Blake, told GeekWire in an email today. So far, seven of Terra Bella’s SkySat satellites have been put into orbit, and that number is expected to grow to 24. Blake declined to say how many of Terra Bella’s satellites would be launched on Spaceflight’s mission in late 2017.