I agree that Google is a pioneer in developing this technology. I would disagree that it would take years for others to catch up. For one thing, they do not have to repeat all Google's mistakes.
Having said that, Google is going what in my opinion a government should be doing, that is, finance a research into a technology that has a potential to pay off many years later. I am not saying it is bad, I think it is nice of Google to spend money that they may not be able to get back for years if not ever.