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Google Spends Money to Jump-Start Hybrid Car Development

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the to-the-googmobile dept.

Google 352

slugo writes "Internet search giant Google (GOOG) hopes to speed the development of plug-in hybrid cars by giving away millions of dollars to people and companies that have what appear to be practical ways to get plug-in hybrid automobiles to market faster. 'While many people don't associate Google with energy, analysts say the fit isn't all that unnatural. Renewable energy, unlike coal or nuclear, will likely come from thousands or tens of thousands of different locations. Analysts have long said that one of the big challenges will be managing that flow into and out of the nation's electric grid, and that companies that manage the flow of information are well placed to handle that task.'"

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352 comments

I'm betting ... (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572687)

... every Google Car will have Google Maps built in ... complete with Google ads based on your GPS derived location.

Re:I'm betting ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572753)

I take it you just read the headline. Google has no plans to produce a car they are offering development money to help spur on new technology.

Re:I'm betting ... (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572803)

they are offering development money to help spur on new technology.
Google is a branding monster. Don't doubt for even a second that there will be a GPS (Google Positioning System) with a GPS (Google Powered Search) in any car produced with Google investment capital.

Re:I'm betting ... (2, Interesting)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572953)

... every Google Car will have Google Maps built in ... complete with Google ads based on your GPS derived location.
I would actually really like this. Google maps are usually VERY accurate (as opposed to the majority of in-dash navigation systems that I have used), easily updated due to "centralized" location, and come with traffic reports (at least in Phoenix).

I know this is doable with an in-car pc + an evdo card, but something from the OEM would be really great. I would whole-heartedly embrace a partnership between GM and google.

Re:I'm betting ... (4, Interesting)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573187)

I like how Google Maps updates all the time.

Back when MapPoint was the only game in town, Microsoft was still 2 years behind in map updates. Sure, the up-to-date construction information was nice but I'be been stuck in 2 states where there was no road in MapPoint and I had to resort to old school tactics by buying a map.

Re:I'm betting ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573341)

Google maps are usually VERY accurate (as opposed to the majority of in-dash navigation systems that I have used)

Google maps' data comes from Geographic Data Technology or Nav-Tech.

In-car nav data comes from Geographic Data Technology of Nav-Tech.

It's the same data....

Re:I'm betting ... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572987)

I guess I may get a Beta-Car

Re:I'm betting ... (1)

cabinetsoft (923481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573007)

"complete with Google ads based on your GPS derived location."
A new meaning for PPC - Pay Per Crash!

Re:I'm betting ... (2, Insightful)

Thaddeaus (777809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573061)

I guess I can understand how people would object to this, but honestly, at this point, I don't really care. I had to fill up my gas tank today, and it almost gave me a heart attack. (And before people reply with "drive less", I drive the least I can, I use cruise control and I don't have the AC on if I don't completely need it, etc, etc, etc.)

If Google can help create a car that runs on whatever and doesn't cost a shitload to power up, then let them put their software in it (would you rather have Windows running in it :) ). I realize people haven't been trusting Google as much lately, but I trust them more then the oil companies.

Of course, that's not saying a lot.

Re:I'm betting ... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573531)

... and Google Street View cameras on every car ...

Biofuel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572691)

Google seems like the type of company to fund a biofuel manhatten project. Everybody(TM) loves them. Am I right?

Hopefully not (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573117)

Overall, Biofuels are a mistake. About the only place that I see them of use is in the algae's ability to accumulate a LOT of CO2. But if we move from fuels in the first place, we will almost certainly move to electric cars. That means that we will have the ability to manage the pollution at single sources rather than multiple points.

Re:Hopefully not (5, Insightful)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573661)

Nice to hear an informed opinion. Biofuels will have their place, and I hope that farmers can finally make a few bucks on corn and soybeans. However, we need to think in terms of "quads", or quadrillions of barrels of oil. That means we need to stop focusing on low-potential technologies like burning sewage waste, and focus on the big wins. Google's right on the mark here, since converting 50% of transportation energy to the grid would push the needle tons in the right direction. At 2X the well-to-wheel efficiency, the grid and plug-in-hybrids represent a cheap and easy way to make a real dent in the energy problem http://www.teslamotors.com/learn_more/foreign_oil. php [teslamotors.com] . Given recent major battery advances like A123 Systems http://www.a123systems.com/ [a123systems.com] , plug-in-hybrids finally make both green sense and financial sense. So, why hasn't Toyota started shipping them? Conspiracy theories abound...

For those who like details, A123 batteries kill Tesla's argument that smaller batteries just die faster, and don't save money. Small A123 batteries will last longer than your car, and never need to be replaced. They also have way lower series resistance, and can push one of those tiny 300HP induction motors http://acpropulsion.com/ [acpropulsion.com] with as much current than they can take. There's simply no reason that a modern plug-in Prius couldn't leave a Porche in the dust (ok, accept for those small hard tires, and crummy handling). By plugging into the grid, we give ourselves the freedom to produce energy however makes the most sense, whether solar, hydro, nuclear, gas, wind, or (God forbid) coal, oil sands, and oil shale. And if this sounds like an add for A123, it turns out that they're simply the first to market among many who will shortly sell competing batteries. Google continues to show some real vision!

Breaking Google news: (-1, Troll)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572699)

I just pooped my cute little pants.

Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572701)

They are just as efficient as non-hybrids. We should perfect solar cells and windmills and use that for alternative energy.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572947)

They are just as efficient as non-hybrids.

Hybrids are more efficient. Non hybrids have no way of recapturing the kinetic energy of the vehicle. Hybrids can capture and store that energy for use later. Also, a car that is cruising on the highway that only needs 30 hp to maintain speed could get that from an electric motor. If you were to run the car off electric only, then switch to gasoline-engine only (and recharging what was used when running on electric) and repeating, you would get better mileage than just cruising on gasoline (also note, this would not be effective at saving energy for a diesel car). Another thing about hybrids is that they generally size the engine and motor to match an equivalent gasoline only offering. That is, the gasoline engine is sized smaller, but the total available power is the same. That results in increased efficiency. And yes, I know there are ones like the Accord where the hybrid offers better acceleration than any other offering, but those are not the highest sellers, nor what people think of with hybrids. But even then, they are more efficient than if there were an offering with a just petrol engine which matched the acceleration.

Add to that the plug-in hybrids (which could spend much of their lives as if they are electric-only), and you have some very efficient choices.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573177)

> also note, this would not be effective at saving energy for a diesel car

Why not?

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573365)

Because when idling, diesel engines are already much more efficient than a gasoline engine.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (2, Insightful)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573795)

But it seems that having an engine that isn't running at all is more efficient during a stop than a really efficient one that is idling.

What am I missing?

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573381)

I believe the point of his post, is that they, hybrid cars, are just as efficient with pollution because the electricity need probably comes from a Coal or Oil power plant, which does not solve the original problem.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (1)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573547)

I believe the point of his post, is that they, hybrid cars, are just as efficient with pollution because the electricity need probably comes from a Coal or Oil power plant, which does not solve the original problem.
Yes, but it is easier to capture CO2 from a central coal or oil plant than from a mobile car.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (2, Insightful)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573879)

But the efficiency gained by burning oil in a power plant and running with electric motors greatly reduces the oil consumed. By my estimates, if we converted 100% of our transportation energy to the grid, we'd just about eliminate foreign oil imports, while reducing green-house gases. Transportation consumes about 66% of our oil in the US, and about 60% of our oil is imported. Less than 10% of our electrical power is generated from oil.

Wrong! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573401)

You are not taking the entire energy equation into account. You have to factor in the energy used in the mining, refining and maintenance of the batteries + charging system.

Re:Wrong! (1)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573487)

You are not taking the entire energy equation into account. You have to factor in the energy used in the mining, refining and maintenance of the batteries + charging system.
You should also take into account the energy used to drill for oil, extract it, refine it, and transport it.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572949)

Looking at the size of some Americans, we are surrounded by alternative energy.
Family generators would be a great idea, until some legal loon decides it's 'unfair' to tell Johnnie to generate some electricity for the car if he wants to go cruising. You know, the usual case of common sense being trampled in the name of some bizarre, decadent, manufactured 'right'.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572995)

"They are just as efficient as non-hybrids."

Non-hybrids have about a century of refinement behind their current performance.
Getting hybrids into the production stream can pave the way for better hybrids, gradually reducing the need to run the internal combustion engine for support. Until energy storage tech improves, the gas engine "crutch" is among reasonable workarounds.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573313)

The thing with pure electric cars that most people are too dense to understand is...
Most of the pollution comes from coal burning electrical plants... not cars.
So putting a bigger strain on the electrical system... means more pollution... unregulated even. Cars have emissions testing up the wazoo...

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (5, Informative)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573173)

They talked mostly about bring plug-in hybrids to market which is a notable difference from current hybrid cars. Regular hybrid cars don't make a whole lot of sense economically and whether they make sense environmentally is arguable (i.e. does the reduction in emissions make up for the emissions/waste from manufacturing and disposing of the battery packs they use?). Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, are essentially full-on electric cars that also have gasoline engine of some sort in them, so they're really a different beast in many ways.

At current, one of the biggest problems with making a mass-market electric car is that they take too long to charge up. You can easily make an electric car with a range that matches a car with a full tank of gas, but once that power is used up, it takes too long to charge up. Even if you build a car with lithium ion or lithium polymer batteries which charge faster than standard NiMH batteries (and are also more expensive and don't age as well) the charge time is still a decent amount of time. Plug-in hybrids could potentially solve this allowing you to run your car as an electric car for your everyday driving around stuff and then being able to run on gas in situations where you wouldn't want or be able to spend the time to charge up your car. This would provide a way to get electric cars on the road and in wide use without waiting for other technologies to develop (i.e. better batteries, smaller/denser ultracapacitors, hydrogen fuel cells, etc.).

Solar cells need a lot of work... and politics (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573257)

Current silicon-based PV really sucks as a general purpose power source because you need so much high qualility energy input to make the stuff. For a quick illustration, lets just use a 10 year energy payback number.

To achieve a goal of getting to 10% of PV power in one year, you'd need to put in 10% * 10 = 100% of current electrical power. That would require first doubling existing electrical generation capacity. Even a 2% PV goal requires 20% of current generation capacity which is still way too high (and 2% per year is hardly going to make any significant inroads - it would not even address growth).

Clearly PV will only ever work with a huge mindshift that goes away from curent silicon-based strategies to a new silicon-based strategy, or radically different strategy, with a far better payback. There are alternatives, but they lack funding and support eg. http://masseynews.massey.ac.nz/2007/Press_Releases /04-04-07.html [massey.ac.nz] This is not the only such different approach - there have been quite a few through the years.

The major labs are still focussed on silicon and high performance and fighting over conversion efficiency rather than $/W which is the important measurement for general usage. Until $/W is targetted as a primaray goal, these technologies will get nowhere useful.

Perhaps it is telling that many major oil companies (BP, Shell and others), with a vested interest in preserving the status quo, are directing a significant portion of the industry research.

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573861)

Why bother with plug-in cars as a philanthropic project when the struggling people who need them do not typically own houses with the garages necessary to use them?

Re:Why even bother with Hybrid Cars (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573869)

Google is taking a whole bunch of approaches to saving the environment. See their solar page [google.com] that went live yesterday. They also just got together a coalition of companies to start using significantly more efficient power supplies, which were R&D'd by Google. They do a ton of other things as well, most of which they surprisingly don't boast about or even try to get good PR from. Not to mention your claim about hybrids is patently false, doubly so when talking about plugin hybrids. If you only travel say 40 or 50 miles to work and back, you can pretty much get through your entire commute without touching any gas. And in states like California where around 40% (and rising) of their energy is produced by clean sources, this can really save the environment. Even if you're using traditional powerplants though, they still use fuel more efficiently than your car does, so it is still a net gain for the environment.
Regards,
Steve

google.ORG not google.com (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572713)

this is the sort of thing they said their philanthropic foundation would invest in. It's really got nothing to do with managing the electric grid flow of information.

Why hybrids? (0, Flamebait)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572715)

They're slow, inefficient, and thirsty. Manufacturing the batteries and disposing of them when they wear out after five years or so is an ecological nightmare. They're costly and complex to build and repair. Why are people so hung up on hybrids?

The battle for more efficient cars has been fought already, and diesels won. Forget hybrids, they're an evolutionary dead end.

Re:Why hybrids? (4, Informative)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572769)

They're slow, inefficient, and thirsty. Manufacturing the batteries and disposing of them when they wear out after five years or so is an ecological nightmare.

Batteries can be r-e-c-y-c-l-e-d.

Re:Why hybrids? (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573281)

uh, your aware that the recycling process is insanely toxic and invovles lead smelting and burning plastics, and disposing of sulphuric acid waste.

Re:Why hybrids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573415)

Wouldn't that be for lead acid batteries?
Lithium ion are frequently recycled and I've never heard tell of these hazards.

Re:Why hybrids? (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573799)

1. you definately will not see anything other then lead acid used any time soon due to cost, and the fact you'd probably blow yourself up with lithium ion.

2. all recycling is a dirty toxic process, lithium is no different.

Re:Why hybrids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573489)

What's wrong with lead smelting? Lead doesn't vaporize.

Sulfuric acid is pretty easy to neutralize (http://www.google.com/search?q=neutralize+sulfuri c+acid), which produces CO2, water, sulfur and a few other products.

Re:Why hybrids? (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573767)

lead smelting doesn't vapourise? what are you smoking (probably lead ha ha)? simply melting lead produces highly toxic fumes.

and how do you propose we dispose of this sulfur contaminated waste? remmeber if many more people used banks of batteries to drive their cars we would have many times more waste to dispose of, it'd end up an environment disaster.

Re:Why hybrids? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573875)

Uh you are aware that no electric cars use Lead acid batteries anymore? Only the ones designed in the 70's and sold at a deep discount rate are based on old lead acid tech. Almost ALL current electric cars have Li-Ion battery packs, can go far longer on a charge and are easily recycled.

Only the knock-off electrics or the ones cruising on 20 year old tech use lead acid. Heck a company in Texas makes a Li-ion battery pack and motor that can make a Mini cooper beat the crap out of a Z06 vette off the line easily (you cant beat having 100% torque available from 0 rpm to top rpm.) and their battery packs are 100% recyclable without harmful waste.

Re:Why hybrids? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573457)

Cars are the best examples of recycling we have. Have you ever passed by a junk yard? Next time, take a better look.

Re:Why hybrids? (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572775)

The battle for more efficient cars
We're talking about the battle for zero-emission vehicles. Of which, the PHEV is a step on the road towards. Besides which, there's diesel hybrids as well as gasoline hybrids.

Re:Why hybrids? (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573711)

And then there is tesla roadster, and compressed air car (which is in fact negative emission car, because to compress air you must filtrate it).

Re:Why hybrids? (5, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572817)

he battle for more efficient cars has been fought already, and diesels won.


Mmm, diesel hybrids.....

Aside from the battery issues, what is wrong with hybrids? AFAIK they're not particularly slow, ineffeicient (diesel hybrids can be pretty darn efficient), OR thirsty. I mean the whole POINT of them is that they are efficient (for city driving at least).

They're "complex" mostly because they're new and most mechanics don't know how to work on them. The idea is to get more out there and standardize them and make them less novel.

How are hybrids and evolutionary dead end if electric cars will eventually be the future? Hybrids will drive battery development, electric motor development, etc. Seems like a natural step to me. Where do you get off calling it a dead end.

Sticking with a purely combustion drive train the dead end.

-matthew

Re:Why hybrids? (2, Informative)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573497)

They're "complex" mostly because they're new and most mechanics don't know how to work on them.
No, they're complex because there's two entire extra systems in there -- the alternator/motor and the coupling between the electric and gasoline power.

GM had an exhibit for awhile that placed all of the parts in a mainstream car, all of the parts in a hybrid car, and all of the parts in a hypothetical fuel-cell car. the first was a good twice the length of the second, which was a comparable length to the third.

Re:Why hybrids? (3, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572821)

Hybrids are not a dead end. They are the equilibrium waiting to be punctured.

Or, in less metaphorical terms, they are the bridging technology that makes the transition to electics possible when the battery technology improves. When the first really economical, environmentally reasonable battery comes along, it will face the chicken-and-egg problem of cars first or charging stations first. Hybrids wiil solve that.

Re:Why hybrids? (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572839)

They're slow, inefficient, and thirsty.
what hybrid car exactly have you been driving? at the very least they are more efficient than most of the cars on the road and certainly any SUV that people drive.

Manufacturing the batteries and disposing of them when they wear out after five years or so is an ecological nightmare.
that is what recycling is for.

They're costly and complex to build and repair.
so is everything that is relatively new technology. especially when it hasn't yet been put into production at the scale that normal cars have.

Why are people so hung up on hybrids?
because cars are a necessary evil and yet there are some of us who would like to lessen the impact of the cars we need to use. The battle for more efficient cars has been fought already, and diesels won. Forget hybrids, they're an evolutionary dead end. no, fuel cells won the battle of efficiency but lost in power [at the moment at least] but then again all chemical fuel sources are an evolutionary dead end, there are better things on the horizon, they just require a lot of work to start rolling.

Re:Why hybrids? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573023)

If you are concerned about impact, diesel is not the way to go. The produce much more toxic chemicals then a gas powered vehicles. Biodiesel is better then diesel, but still not cleaner then gas.

"what hybrid car exactly have you been driving? at the very least they are more efficient than most of the cars on the road and certainly any SUV that people drive."

Sure, but not more efficient then a 3 cylinder gas powered car like the Chevy Sprint.
Cheaper to make, more efficient use of energy, cheap to maintain on has a small battery to worry about disposal. Uses less resources to make.

I have no idea why you brought up SUVs, they're not in the same class.

Re:Why hybrids? (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573349)

cars are a necessary evil
Horse and buggy ;)

Re:Why hybrids? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573793)

Too many people. Use pedicabs. Far simpler, nearly non-polluting and employs all those that would otherwise be sitting at home collecting welfare and watching TV.

Re:Why hybrids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573495)

This recycling thing all you tree-huggers rant about.... Tell me, are YOU going to be the one paying for the expensive and complicated process of "recycling" the batteries from every car in America every five years? This is even ignoring the fact that battery acid can't be recycled indefinitely; leaving the question of what to do with the large quantity that has outlived its usefulness. Stop running to embrace any plan that some company labels as "eco-friendly" and think things through yourself.

Re:Why hybrids? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573593)

the magnitude of your stupidity disgusts me but i'll bite. I would rather pay more to have the batteries recycled than to resort to burying them coverty underneath your yard.

This is even ignoring the fact that battery acid can't be recycled indefinitely; leaving the question of what to do with the large quantity that has outlived its usefulness.
battery acid is a mixture of H2SO4 and water, it doesn't wear out like you are suggesting, if there is H2SO4 and or water in it, it will work. furthermore, it can be neutralized by reacting the mixture with a base, likely a calcium/magnesium base which also locks up any impurities in the fluid.

Stop running to embrace any plan that some company labels as "eco-friendly" and think things through yourself.
and you stop contributing nothing useful to humanity, quit being industry's bitch and do something useful damn it.

Re:Why hybrids? (2, Informative)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573207)

Part of the benefit of hybrids and electrical plug-in vehicles is that they are source-neutral. Any source can feed the grid, and in turn, your vehicle. As new energy sources become viable, your vehicle reliability increases and it becomes easy to phase in and phase out sources depending on economical viability, political environments (wars, etc), disasters, and technological breakthroughs.

Diesel is a great start to help us get there in the meantime.

Re:Why hybrids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573575)

Manufacturing the batteries and disposing of them when they wear out after five years or so is an ecological nightmare.

Gee, good thing the Toyota and Honda hybrids come with a 8 years/100,000 mile warranty on the batteries! (http://www.toyota.com/vehicles/2005/prius/faq.htm l) This warranty means that the batteries won't fail every 5 years.

Automobile batteries are pretty easy to recycle. The metal is reusable, battery acid can easily be neutralized. The waste produced is far far less then the equivalent emissions from a non-hybrid car.

Re:Why hybrids? (4, Interesting)

Astro Dr Dave (787433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573701)

Manufacturing the batteries and disposing of them when they wear out after five years or so is an ecological nightmare. Hardly... at least insofar as the Prius is concerned. Its batteries are recyclable, and NiMH isn't toxic or dangerous like lead-acid or lithium anyway. Furthermore, the batteries should last the life of the vehicle; testing showed no measurable degradation after 150,000 miles.

X-Prize (4, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572717)

I think it'd make more sense to use the money as a bounty for advances in hybrid cars than to throw it around, the same way the x-prize does. It saves you the difficulty of efficient capital allocation.

It's not the same situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573067)

The X prize was for doing something that not a lot of people were trying to do. In other words, the low hanging fruit had not yet been picked.

Cars, on the other hand ... World + dog have been working on cars for the last hundred years. The low hanging fruit has definitely been picked. Coming up with useful innovations is going to be a lot harder. All the easy stuff has been done. Amateurs need not apply. What's required here is heavy duty engineering.

As Don Landcaster points out, if many people have been working on something for a long time, don't expect earth-shattering innovation.

Re:X-Prize (2, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573095)

While the X-Prize made for alot of publicity and one clear winner, which continues to progress forward, it might not be suited to Googles goal. They seem to be aiming for lots of smaller ideas covering the whole of the multifaceted problem of plugging in cars. It not a singlar brilliant feat they are after, but a nationwide cultural shift.

Re:X-Prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573601)

It's not about getting inventing new tech. It's about getting the existing tech to market. That takes many groups working in concert. You can't give away an x-prize for that.

Re:X-Prize (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573709)

They should use the money to pay bigger bribes to the government officials who are working for the oil companies and actively trying to stop this technology from getting to market.

That would be more effective.

right... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572739)

Well I know how to regulate the flow of water in and out of my body. Therefore I'm well poised to manage the future electrical grid.

PHEV already exist (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572743)

* Many automakers have built PHEVs in private workshops, and DaimlerChrysler has publicly tested PHEV prototypes. They are converting up to 40 15-passenger Mercedes commercial vans into PHEVs, with some vehicles using NiMH and others advanced lithium-ion batteries, plus diesel and gasoline engines. The program is in cooperation with California's Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), South Coast Air Quality Management District, and Southern California Edison. See the press release, EPRI announcement and Daimler's description (with graphics).

* The advanced hybrid vehicle research center at University of California-Davis (founded and directed by CalCars advisor Prof. Andy Frank) has converted nine sedans and SUVs into PHEVs that have repeatedly won prizes in US Energy Department-sponsored "FutureTruck" competitions. Dr. Frank, widely known as the "Father of the Plug-In Hybrid," has been working on PHEVs for thirty years, and building them with students for more than a decade.

* CalCars produced the world's first plug-in Prius (the PRIUS+) in 2004. Since then a number of companies have emerged to offer conversions for sale to consumers and fleet buyers, and CalCars has worked to support a growing open-source conversion movement.

* In 2003-04, the US Marine Corps demonstrated a diesel-electric PHEV-20 HUMVEE. (The military likes the silent, zero-heat "footprint" in all-electric mode, and appreciates saving fuel that can cost well over $100/gallon to deliver to front lines.) This advanced Shadow RST-V (Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targetting Vehicle PHEV, built by General Dynamics, uses lightweight lithium-ion batteries and motors in four wheel hubs. See details and photos and more descriptions.

* Long Island, NY has converted a city bus to a plug in hybrid with 40 miles of all-electric range. Many more heavy-duty vehicle conversions (including three recycling dump-trucks that will run in "silent" mode for pickups) are in progress.
see here [calcars.org]

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572763)

If Microsoft copies this endeavor we can all start up the "if Microsoft made cars" jokes again. Here's hoping!

If microsoft made cars... (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573141)

you'd have to ask everyone to step out of the car, break out the seats, unscrew the door at the drivers' side and open all your other windows so you can pump gas because your tires were guestimated to a traction experience rating of 2.7 and the gaspump requires an overal experience rating of 3.0. When your gastank opening has a pump experience rate of 5.2...

Re:Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!! (1)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573561)

I already have a brown piece of crap car that squirts oil.

Re:Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!! (1)

choongiri (840652) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573643)

If Microsoft made cars, they wouldn't need jump-starting.

Oh wait...

Google and energy (0, Flamebait)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572797)

People don't associate Google with energy? I thought they need their server farm could black out a small city.

Re:Google and energy (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573057)

Most people don't know that.
SUprise, must people don't know google uses a cluster.

I wonder if the moved into some of the new mainframes. Some of which could run 90,000 machines in memory. Seems it would cost a lot less when power is considered.

Re:Google and energy (4, Interesting)

Rodness (168429) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573249)

Funny that I just read a macworld article about google in the enterprise [macworld.com] , which stated:

The company also announced that it will be "carbon neutral" by 2008, which involves reducing its energy consumption as much as possible, then "canceling out" its carbon-dioxide emissions by funding projects that help the environment.

Google has reduced the energy consumption at its giant data centers by more than 50 percent compared with "standard" data centers, using evaporative cooling for its servers and other means, said Urs Hoelzle, a senior vice president of operations. At the same time, he admitted, Google is growing so fast that its energy consumption each year is actually increasing.
Funding hybrid development is apparently one of their "carbon neutral" endeavors.

ZOMG GOOGLE IS EVIL CHINA M$ SUXXORZ BILLGATES!!!1 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572811)

And I suppose you'll all suggest that we should all just run the latest Cockbuntu open-source freedom car instead, right? Just like all of those free great freeware open free source free games that appeared after id opened up the Quake engines, right? FUCK THE **AA AND THEIR FREEDOM HATING MONOPOLY! If their music and movies didn't suck so fucking hard then maybe I'd pay for the 40 gigs of absolute shit material that I don't value enough to pay for and only downloaded to stick it to TEH MANG!!1!

IMFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE!1!!... unless it's GPL'ed and someone finds a way to make a dollar off of it, then it's ZOMGFUCKINGFREEDOMFREEOPENSOURCEFREEDOM!

Eat a bowl of open-source dicks, you pinko faggots. I'm going to go play a game I paid for (FAIL!) and downloaded from Steam (FASCIST COCKSUCKER!) that was made by paid professionals (SELLOUT!) who took money for their work (HITLER!) and created something worth paying for (GODWIN!) that runs under Windows (GODWINHITLERBILLGATE$!!!!!)

Then I'm going to go use my Mac and piss on an unwashed Unix user.

Fuck you all...

Wait a minute... (5, Insightful)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572883)

Analysts have long said that one of the big challenges will be managing that flow into and out of the nation's electric grid, and that companies that manage the flow of information are well placed to handle that task.
That doesn't make any sense. They distribute information on a virtual network and they own almost none of the hardware used to distribute it... but they are somehow well placed to distribute power from a power grid, which is a completely different network?

That doesn't make any sense at all. It makes so little sense, I can't even think of an analogy close enough to what they said to properly mock them.

Shedding a bit of light (1)

raygundan (16760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573399)

Consider the responsiveness of google's applications, the volume of data, and the number of users. This isn't a server at some ISP, or even a server farm-- google owns a massively distributed network of staggering complexity from central points all the way out to local nodes. They snap up dark fiber left and right to augment their backbone. They're currently running somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-million servers.

If anybody can figure out how to coordinate the use of millions of hybrid-car batteries as some sort of parellelized grid-connected energy store despite the obvious availability problems with mobile energy stores that are only connected intermittently, it's probably them.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

Adam Heath (8109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573583)

Maybe someone, living on a certain moon of Endor, might be appropriate to mention here.

It's there money but personally I would (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572897)

have put that money to energy source research.
Better batteries and fuel cells.

an efficient car takes a lot of resources for different parts, so the research money gets spread thin amongst many different technologies.

Relax, it's just an opinion.

THEIR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573567)

"It's there money but personally I would"

FFS, use the right word! THEIR! THEIR THEIR THEIR!

Relax, it's just grammar.

Wha? (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572907)

"Renewable energy, unlike coal or nuclear, will likely come from thousands or tens of thousands of different locations. Analysts have long said that one of the big challenges will be managing that flow into and out of the nation's electric grid, and that companies that manage the flow of information are well placed to handle that task.'"
That's definitely not in TFA.

Which forces me to ask why "companies that manage the flow of information are well placed to handle that task"?

You'd think that the power companies, at most, would need to update their billing software. WTF does managing the flow of information have to do with a $1 million grant? Am I missing something else?

As an aside, one of the continuing problems with electric vehicles is battery temperature.

Re:Wha? (1)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573189)

WTF does managing the flow of information have to do with a $1 million grant? Am I missing something else?

Yes: the need for the managers of a publicly held company to come up with a plausible rationalization to give their shareholders for spending $1 million on something that (a) isn't part of their business plan, and (b) isn't a standard philanthropic/charitable (aka tax deductible) cause.

Re:Wha? (4, Funny)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573191)

Simple.
Information = knowledge
Knowledge = Power
Power = Electricity
Therefore: Information = Electricity

Google will become the waterwheel of the 21st century.

Swi

fr`ost pist... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572931)

If you do not driven out by the roots and gets on paper towGels, you should bring haplees *BSD

Google Car (0, Offtopic)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572935)

Cue sound of Google Car:
Vrooooooooooooooooooooooooom
Vrooooooooooooooooooooooooom

Goes zero to 60 in 0.12 seconds.

I couldn't start my hybrid car... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572945)

...until I hooked up my LAN cable to it and did a Google search. Then it started right up!

Another way to save the planet... (5, Funny)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573019)

I recommend you get a license to sell real estate [dilbert.com]

wait, let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573073)

Google will be support fuel-efficient transportation, and will be totally committed to it, while their executives fly around in corporate jets to exclusive vacation spots.

Same way they are totally committed to open source software.

Google-EV1 (4, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573211)

What about the EV-1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_EV1 [wikipedia.org] the "leasee's" of these vehicles seemed to be satisfied with them and the batteries were specified to produce a 125 mile range, would it be so hard to have a google version?

http://www.google.com.au/search?q=ev1&start=0&ie=u tf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en- US:official [google.com.au]

Seems to me the oil companies are just making sure we keep using oil and make sure no competing infrastructure exists to provide vehicles with energy.

Re:Google-EV1 (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573743)

Easiest way to kill of an electric car is get the batteries declared as toxic waste and make it illegal for anyone but the manufacturer to actually own one.

That's a lot closer to what happened to the EV-1 than some "oil company conspiracy".

All those lead-acid batteries might cause cancer. Funny, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop on the Lithium-Ion batteries in hybrid cars. So far, nobody has done much of anything and there have been very few hybrids junked as end-of-life. I would expect someone to start noticing the batteries piling up fairly soon, say 3-4 years.

Recycling? Sure, they can be recycled. Not sure what a lithium-ion battery can be recycled into, but I'm sure it isn't a new lithium-ion battery. As such, recycling only makes a limited amount of sense. It is like plastic recycling in the US - somewhere around 90% of it is just dumped for one reason or another even though it was originally collected to be recycled. Same with paper. It doesn't pay enough. The result of recycling paper is low-grade materials, not nice new paper.

Re:Google-EV1 (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573885)

I would expect someone to start noticing the batteries piling up fairly soon, say 3-4 years.
How is this that different than the "piling up" all those Li-ion batteries in cellphones and notebook computers? Granted the battery in a hybrid is much bigger than a cellphone battery, but there are a few more cellphones than hybrids in the world.

It's nuketastic (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573299)

Renewable energy, unlike coal or nuclear, will likely come from thousands or tens of thousands of different locations.

That's great and all, and I'm all in favor of utilizing the zillions of acres of rooftop in the US and around the world to accommodate solar cells. But if you're going to move the automobile infrastructure to electricity and away from petroleum, you're going to have to build more nuclear power plants.

Re:It's nuketastic (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573623)

Which is not going to happen in the US because the greens have made it impossible to get licenses for new nuclear plants.

Re:It's nuketastic (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573649)

you're going to have to build more nuclear power plants.
why?

Re:It's nuketastic (1)

dudestir (851669) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573783)

Understanding that there would be an additional cost but why not solar panels on the roof of the cars. Some panels are now getting near 50% efficiency. Most people drive their car to work and park it. It might as well recharge during these eight hours vs. being plugged into the grid for eight hours.

Re:It's nuketastic (1)

hcgpragt (968424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573841)

Well,
as I understand it the Bushg administration said 'no' to kyoto because he believes technology will come up with a solution (that's us guys btw).
So I guess he sees alternatives to nuclear plants?
Something to do with corn?

H

Linus is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573315)

I know I will be called a fanboy but I am with Linus on this one.
His arguments are always persuasive in my view.

why not hydrogen? (3, Insightful)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573361)

Nice gesture, but can we ditch the fossil fuel dependancy? I can already blow up at the gas pump when Bill Dumbass is smoking next to me or leaving the engine running. Hydrogen cant be much worse.

Re:why not hydrogen? (3, Interesting)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573697)

In my opinion, the energy storage system to work for is a generalized alcohol fuel cell, designed to be able to handle methanol and ethanol mixtures in any proportion. This system has a number of advantages: for one, this would largely be a refinement of existing technology, and for another, light molecular weight alcohols are very easy to generate from waste biomass. Anything from hemp, to straw, harvested algae, to waste products from paper and other industries, and yet again that it is a carbon neutral technology no net carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Alcohols also have the considerable advantage of being liquid at standard conditions, which makes transport very easy. It's really just a matter of putting the infrastructure in place.

Wholley Crap!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573385)

My mom just told us she did TimRuss one day!

Google is pushing electric. (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573431)

If anyone wants some good history about the electric car and how it was killed in california, the documentary "Who killed the Electric Car" is worth watching.
You can catch the trailer over at youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSBykAngDpY [youtube.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electr ic_Car? [wikipedia.org]

Why not electric? (1)

Dersaidin (954402) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573455)

I think its a great initiative by Google, but why aim for producing Hybrid cars? As I see it, the overall idea is trying to move away from fossil fuels. Why keep a fosil fuel component at all?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=OXqYbNEiW0Y [youtube.com]
Purely electric cars look like a great option.

Take this seriously for a minute (3, Interesting)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573637)

Google is doing this simply because they can not lose and may gain big. This is not going to change anything else that they are doing.

The article is very long on fluff and does not give up a lot of details which makes it very hard to read between the lines or even to read much into the article. This is not something that aligns itself with Google's "core business" so one must ask why is Google doing this?

Almost everyone will agree that the folks at Google are smart. Frankly they have not comitted a lot of money. It could be that they are just funding this for the goodwill (and publicity) that they will gain. From the amount of money that they have pledged, this could be the only reason. Aligning yourself with an energy issue that everyone cares about is worth a million or even ten million to a company with the reach (and pocketbook) of a company like Google. Google is certainly doing "no evil" with this.

Going back to the part where I said the folks at Google are smart makes me think that this may be something a bit more. Something that they can justify simply for the goodwill and publicity that the effort generates but can maybe give them something more. It seems like this is how they almost always work. In this light, I am wondering if this is a "testing of the water" of the energy venture capital business. Low risk (with billions in available cash one or ten million is not a big wager) with huge potential rewards if the smart folks at Google pick the right project(s) to fund.

The smart people at Google come from a wide range of sciences and specialties. If you put the right people together to review the requests for funding, they stand a fair to middlin chance of picking the right one(s).

Google is indeed smart.

Better headline: Bubble 2.0 (2, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573839)

Bubble 2.0, but this time it's almost entirely funded by google.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't wait for the crash.
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