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We create radical new technologies to solve some of the world’s hardest problems
X -
The Moonshot Factory
X is a diverse group of inventors and entrepreneurs who build and launch technologies that aim to improve the lives of millions, even billions, of people. Our goal: 10x impact on the world’s most intractable problems, not just 10% improvement. We approach projects that have the aspiration and riskiness of research with the speed and ambition of a startup.
Public X Projects
Public X Projects
What if you could read a plant
like you read a book?
What if we could protect the ocean
while feeding the world sustainably?
What if robots could learn
to help us with everyday life?
What if beams of light could provide
global access to fast, affordable internet?
X Timeline
X Timeline
Ten years of moonshots - from self driving cars to computational agriculture Ten years of moonshots
In 2010, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to form a new division of the company to work on moonshots: far-out, sci-fi sounding technologies that could one day make the world a radically better place. It was a grand experiment — some might say a moonshot unto itself. 10 years in, X has incubated hundreds of different moonshot projects, many of which have gone on to become independent businesses.
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2010
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2020
The Moonshot Factory is created
Google’s new division gets a placeholder name: X. It has a first project: self-driving cars. Is it a research center? An incubator? A non-profit? No, it’s a moonshot factory looking 5-10 years out into the future, aiming to solve some of the world’s hardest problems. Google’s new division gets a placeholder name: X. It has a first...
An early flurry of invention
The first batch of X projects begins, including wearable computer, Google Glass, and Google Brain, a team breaking new ground in artificial intelligence. Other teams tackle indoor maps (Insight) and improving photography on mobile devices (GCam). The first batch of X projects begins, including wearable computer,...
Hardest things first
Audacious idea: deliver Internet from giant balloons flying freely on stratospheric winds. A determined team sets out to prove this was impossible — the opposite of what most people do. By tackling the hardest parts of the problem first, they get Loon flying and cement a mindset that becomes a cornerstone of X’s culture. Audacious idea: deliver Internet from giant balloons flying freely on...
A breakthrough for Brain
Brain creates one of the largest-ever neural networks for machine learning. The team feeds random images of cats extracted from 10 million YouTube videos, but they don’t tell the machines in advance what a cat looks like. The results are unprecedented, proving that machine learning is ready to improve many of the tools we use everyday. Brain creates one of the largest-ever neural networks for machine...
Glass Explorers
The Google Glass Explorer program launches, inviting the public to teach X how a wearable device could be useful in their daily lives. Athletes, concert pianists, hair stylists, and firefighters help the team gather learnings they never could have in a lab. The Google Glass Explorer program launches, inviting the public to...
A first in New Zealand
30 lighter-than-air solar-powered Loon balloons launch in the Canterbury area of New Zealand. Sheep farmer Charles Nimmo is the first person in the world to connect to balloon-powered internet. 30 lighter-than-air solar-powered Loon balloons launch in the...
A milestone for Makani
Makani’s 20kw prototype energy kite successfully achieves a special kind of flight called “crosswind flight” that the team will use to sustainably generate electricity from the wind. Makani’s 20kw prototype energy kite successfully achieves a special...
Wing's first real-world delivery
Project Wing's self-flying drone drops off candy and dog treats to a cattle rancher in Australia in its first tests outside the US. Project Wing's self-flying drone drops off candy and dog treats to a...
Early prototypes: Is that a koala?
The Self-Driving Car project develops the “Firefly” prototype, built from the ground up for fully autonomous operation. Designed to be neighborhood friendly and approachable, many insist this early prototype looks like a koala. The Self-Driving Car project develops the “Firefly” prototype, built...
Life sciences converge
Health professionals have long aimed to move treatment from largely reactive to proactive. A collection of new technologies developed at X, including a smart contact lens, come together around this mission and ultimately graduate from X to form the Alphabet company, Verily. Health professionals have long aimed to move treatment from largely...
The X in Alphabet
Alphabet forms in August 2015, separating Google from a set of smaller companies working on very different problems. Still an innovation lab, but now a separate division within Alphabet, Google X becomes X, and its job is to generate moonshot-based businesses for Alphabet. Alphabet forms in August 2015, separating Google from a set of smaller...
No ordinary ride
The Self-Driving Car team completes the world’s first fully self-driving ride on public roads in Austin, TX — no steering wheel, pedals, or test drivers involved. Steve Mahan, the former CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, is the inaugural passenger. The Self-Driving Car team completes the world’s first fully...
Introducing Waymo
The Self-Driving Car team, X’s first moonshot project, graduates to become its own Alphabet company with the mission of building a better driver and making it safe and easy for everyone to get around. The Self-Driving Car team, X’s first moonshot project, graduates to...
The factory operating manual
Over several years of moonshot-taking, X notices some of the cultural habits that make audacious thinking and radical creativity easier — and repeatable. Over several years of moonshot-taking, X notices some of the cultural...
Testing in the Australian skies
Project Wing begins delivering food and other goods to families in rural areas around Canberra, Australia. Project Wing begins delivering food and other goods to families in...
A new chapter for Glass
The Glass Explorer program evolves into Glass Enterprise Edition when the team learns that workers in fields such as manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare find wearable devices highly useful for getting the information they need while their hands are busy. The Glass Explorer program evolves into Glass Enterprise Edition when...
Helping out after disasters
After devastating floods in Peru and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Project Loon flies in to provide basic connectivity and help people get access to vital information and basic communication tools. After devastating floods in Peru and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico,...
Dandelion graduates
Dandelion, a project using geothermal energy to sustainably and affordably heat and cool homes, graduates from X as an independent company outside Alphabet and begins offering services in the northeastern United States. Dandelion, a project using geothermal energy to sustainably and...
A stroke of Real Genius
Project Loon tries using wireless optical communications, or beams of light, to transmit data between two balloons flying 100km apart. They send a copy of the movie Real Genius, and it works. Project Taara is born to see how wireless optical communications can be used to bring quality connectivity to underserved places back down on earth. Project Loon tries using wireless optical communications, or beams of...
Computational agriculture
In 2017, a new team at X forms to help farmers around the world grow more food, more sustainably. By bringing together new data, machine learning, and novel sensing technologies, the team spots an opportunity to give farmers and breeders clearer and more accurate insights into how their crops are doing. In 2017, a new team at X forms to help farmers around the world grow...
A cybersecurity moonshot
Most cyberattacks today are dealt with reactively, after the damage is already done. In 2018, Chronicle — a new platform using machine learning to spot patterns in huge volumes of security data — graduates from X to help give organizations a much higher-resolution view of their security situations than they’ve ever had. Most cyberattacks today are dealt with reactively, after the damage is...
Loon and Wing take flight
After years of hard work and relentless testing in the real world, Loon and Wing graduate from X and become two new independent businesses within Alphabet. After years of hard work and relentless testing in the real world, Loon...
Introducing Malta
Project Malta — a new approach to grid-scale energy storage whose secret ingredient is molten salt — graduates from X and becomes an independent company outside Alphabet as they get ready to build their first megawatt-scale pilot plant. Project Malta — a new approach to grid-scale energy storage whose...
Makani graduates
After the latest Makani model generates 600 kilowatts of electricity — enough energy to power about 300 homes — Makani becomes an independent company within Alphabet and partners with Shell to continue working towards clean, affordable wind power. After the latest Makani model generates 600 kilowatts of electricity —...
Building everyday robots
X announces the Everyday Robot Project, a project whose moonshot is to build robots that can learn to do a range of everyday tasks and ultimately become as helpful to people in the physical world as computers are now in the virtual world. X announces the Everyday Robot Project, a project whose moonshot is to...
Seeing underwater
In 2020, X launches Tidal, a new project combining machine learning and an underwater camera system to help understand and protect our ocean’s ecosystems. They start with a small corner of the problem: partnering with fish farmers to help them run and grow their operations more sustainably. In 2020, X launches Tidal, a new project combining machine learning and...
Ten years of learning
Over the course of 10 years, X learns a lot about some of the processes and cultural habits that help systematize innovation. For our 10th anniversary, we share the Gimbal — our internal guide to invention and innovation — alongside other tips for unleashing radical creativity that anyone can put into practice. Over the course of 10 years, X learns a lot about some of the processes...
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2018
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2019
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2020
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2021
2010
The Moonshot Factory is created
Google’s new division gets a placeholder name: X. It has a first project: self-driving cars. Is it a research center? An incubator? A non-profit? No, it’s a moonshot factory looking 5-10 years out into the future, aiming to solve some of the world’s hardest problems.
2011
An early flurry of invention
The first batch of X projects begins, including wearable computer, Google Glass, and Google Brain, a team breaking new ground in artificial intelligence. Other teams tackle indoor maps (Insight) and improving photography on mobile devices (GCam).
2012
Hardest things first
Audacious idea: deliver Internet from giant balloons flying freely on stratospheric winds. A determined team sets out to prove this was impossible — the opposite of what most people do. By tackling the hardest parts of the problem first, they get Loon flying and cement a mindset that becomes a cornerstone of X’s culture.
A breakthrough for Brain
Brain creates one of the largest-ever neural networks for machine learning. The team feeds random images of cats extracted from 10 million YouTube videos, but they don’t tell the machines in advance what a cat looks like. The results are unprecedented, proving that machine learning is ready to improve many of the tools we use everyday.
2013
Glass Explorers
The Google Glass Explorer program launches, inviting the public to teach X how a wearable device could be useful in their daily lives. Athletes, concert pianists, hair stylists, and firefighters help the team gather learnings they never could have in a lab.
A first in New Zealand
30 lighter-than-air solar-powered Loon balloons launch in the Canterbury area of New Zealand. Sheep farmer Charles Nimmo is the first person in the world to connect to balloon-powered internet.
A milestone for Makani
Makani’s 20kw prototype energy kite successfully achieves a special kind of flight called “crosswind flight” that the team will use to sustainably generate electricity from the wind.
2014
Wing's first real-world delivery
Project Wing's self-flying drone drops off candy and dog treats to a cattle rancher in Australia in its first tests outside the US.
Early prototypes: Is that a koala?
The Self-Driving Car project develops the “Firefly” prototype, built from the ground up for fully autonomous operation. Designed to be neighborhood friendly and approachable, many insist this early prototype looks like a koala.
2015
Life sciences converge
Health professionals have long aimed to move treatment from largely reactive to proactive. A collection of new technologies developed at X, including a smart contact lens, come together around this mission and ultimately graduate from X to form the Alphabet company, Verily.
The X in Alphabet
Alphabet forms in August 2015, separating Google from a set of smaller companies working on very different problems. Still an innovation lab, but now a separate division within Alphabet, Google X becomes X, and its job is to generate moonshot-based businesses for Alphabet.
No ordinary ride
The Self-Driving Car team completes the world’s first fully self-driving ride on public roads in Austin, TX — no steering wheel, pedals, or test drivers involved. Steve Mahan, the former CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, is the inaugural passenger.
2016
Introducing Waymo
The Self-Driving Car team, X’s first moonshot project, graduates to become its own Alphabet company with the mission of building a better driver and making it safe and easy for everyone to get around.
2017
The factory operating manual
Over several years of moonshot-taking, X notices some of the cultural habits that make audacious thinking and radical creativity easier — and repeatable.
Testing in the Australian skies
Project Wing begins delivering food and other goods to families in rural areas around Canberra, Australia.
A new chapter for Glass
The Glass Explorer program evolves into Glass Enterprise Edition when the team learns that workers in fields such as manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare find wearable devices highly useful for getting the information they need while their hands are busy.
Helping out after disasters
After devastating floods in Peru and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Project Loon flies in to provide basic connectivity and help people get access to vital information and basic communication tools.
Dandelion graduates
Dandelion, a project using geothermal energy to sustainably and affordably heat and cool homes, graduates from X as an independent company outside Alphabet and begins offering services in the northeastern United States.
A stroke of Real Genius
Project Loon tries using wireless optical communications, or beams of light, to transmit data between two balloons flying 100km apart. They send a copy of the movie Real Genius, and it works. Project Taara is born to see how wireless optical communications can be used to bring quality connectivity to underserved places back down on earth.
Computational agriculture
In 2017, a new team at X forms to help farmers around the world grow more food, more sustainably. By bringing together new data, machine learning, and novel sensing technologies, the team spots an opportunity to give farmers and breeders clearer and more accurate insights into how their crops are doing.
2018
A cybersecurity moonshot
Most cyberattacks today are dealt with reactively, after the damage is already done. In 2018, Chronicle — a new platform using machine learning to spot patterns in huge volumes of security data — graduates from X to help give organizations a much higher-resolution view of their security situations than they’ve ever had.
Loon and Wing take flight
After years of hard work and relentless testing in the real world, Loon and Wing graduate from X and become two new independent businesses within Alphabet.
Introducing Malta
Project Malta — a new approach to grid-scale energy storage whose secret ingredient is molten salt — graduates from X and becomes an independent company outside Alphabet as they get ready to build their first megawatt-scale pilot plant.
2019
Makani graduates
After the latest Makani model generates 600 kilowatts of electricity — enough energy to power about 300 homes — Makani becomes an independent company within Alphabet and partners with Shell to continue working towards clean, affordable wind power.
Building everyday robots
X announces the Everyday Robot Project, a project whose moonshot is to build robots that can learn to do a range of everyday tasks and ultimately become as helpful to people in the physical world as computers are now in the virtual world.
2020
Seeing underwater
In 2020, X launches Tidal, a new project combining machine learning and an underwater camera system to help understand and protect our ocean’s ecosystems. They start with a small corner of the problem: partnering with fish farmers to help them run and grow their operations more sustainably.
Ten years of learning
Over the course of 10 years, X learns a lot about some of the processes and cultural habits that help systematize innovation. For our 10th anniversary, we share the Gimbal — our internal guide to invention and innovation — alongside other tips for unleashing radical creativity that anyone can put into practice.