Google’s secret lab, called X features unattainable projects like teleportation, space elevators and hoverboards, but for Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots, ideas must be borderline crazy in order to receive green light. Fast Company’s Jon Gertner succeeded in entering the most talked about secret lab in the world, namely X where ideas like driverless cars and Project Loon stem from. At X, failure is embraced and sometimes even celebrated, and letting go is “a positive thing.” Welcome to Google X.
Fast Company is the first magazine to take a look at a lab almost as famous as Area 51 and describe the magic that happens behind closed doors. Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots, a person who gives innovations a chance only if they can revolutionize the world offered the public a glimpse at Google’s secret lab, which features teleportation and space elevators. The Rapid Evaluation Team, or “Rapid Eval” is led by Rich DeVaul, a strong believer in failure. According to him, putting off failing “until tomorrow or next week” has no sense and he even hugs people who admit when they make mistakes.
Gertner explains that, while Google Research is devoted to Internet technologies and computer science, X lab’s aim is to put into practice ideas that transcend the normal, like Wi-Fi balloons and glucose-monitoring contact lenses. There are over 250 people working at X, but employees are anything but typical. Teller has worked in finance and earned a PhD in artificial intelligence, and another employee has won two Academy Awards for special effects. Some are sculptors, others are philosophers, but all share the love for the unattainable and technologies that are decades away from making an impact on the world.
Google’s secret lab features teleportation, space elevators and hoverboards, but not many know that it was founded five years ago by Sebastian Thrun, the engineer who built the driverless car. X is situated at the edge of the Google campus and its space does not need more than a couple of buildings with three stories. There is no sign to welcome its employees and no official website, nothing that could offer a hint about the location. The rooms are crammed with electronic equipment and, behind the doors that point to places like “Castle Grayskull,” Xers are tirelessly working on their laptops.
Google’s secret lab features incredible projects like teleportation and space elevators, but also hoverboards that could have worked, if it weren’t for the magnets that shift polarities and determine the creations to flip over. As far as the space elevator is concerned, the problem was the lack of a cable “at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel we have,” Google X employee Dan Piponi told Gertner. Although the team succeeded in finding the proper material, namely carbon nanotubes, it cannot be used because there are no strands longer than one meter available. Regardless of how far-fetched projects might seem, if they address a problem which affects millions of people, use solutions that exceed any expectation and technologies that are not impossible to obtain, they are worth taking into account. Google’s secret lab features plans like teleportation and space elevators, but even if they fail, it is the idea that counts.
By Gabriela Motroc