When Google’s Sergey Brin took the stage at the Code conference, everyone was expecting for some earth-shattering revelations to be made, but things weren’t really so.Aside from the rather cute and impressive self-driving cars that Google revealed, Brin addressed a range of topics, including Google Glass, Google+, and mass surveillance, but didn’t really give much details on either.
Google’s efforts to create a self-driving car have been known for years and the retrofitted Lexus and Prius models that the company has been testing have been on the streets for a couple of years now, learning how to handle themselves in real driving circumstances, including how to avoid other cars, crashes, and jaywalkers.
At the conference, the company took the next step and unveiled a prototype it built from scratch to accommodate Google’s vision for the driverless cars. It has no steering wheel, no pedals, no breaks, no mirrors, glove compartment, or much in the way of entertainment.
The cars have an on and off button, seatbelts, and loads of sensors to map the world around them. When will the cars be ready to hit the road? There was no answer to this question, although this is probably the one thing everyone wants to know.
Previous estimates indicated that it would take the company another decade to fine-tune the project, but Google may be in a hurry since there are other companies that are interested in taking on the same challenge.
Another important project that the Google X team has been working on is the Google Glass. “Google Glass will be a commercial product this year… plus or minus,” Sergey Brin when asked about this.
While he is giving us all hope that the device will finally exit the beta/Explorer period sometime soon (complete with a serious price cut), there’s also the possibility that the new version of the Glass won’t be made available this year either, which is disappointing.
Another issue Brin discussed at the conference was the slew of patent trolls attacking tech companies, including Google. The company has been fighting against patent trolls for a while, even agreeing to bury the hatchet with Apple in order to focus on working on improving patent laws.
He argued that business process patents, which cover new methods of doing business, should be eliminated to allow new companies to thrive. Furthermore, patent holders should be required to put the protected technology to use, which is not something practiced by trolls, which simply buy patents to sue other companies.