Google Lunar XPRIZE


September 13, 2017 marks ten years since Google announced the Lunar XPRIZE at a technology conference sponsored by Wired magazine. Up for grabs – a $30 million US prize pool, $20 million top prize going to the first privately funded team of innovators successfully landing a robotic craft on the Moon, moving it at least 500 meters across the lunar surface and transmitting two “Mooncasts” in high definition video, no less than 8 minutes each – one on arrival, the other at completion of mobility requirements. Subsidiary, bonus and incentive prizes are detailed below. Link to full contest rules –

http://lunar.xprize.org/about/guidelines

Registration closed December 31, 2010. If no registered team managed to secure launch arrangements by December 31, 2015, the contest would end. On October 9, 2015 team SpaceIL verified a launch contract with SpaceX. Conditions met, the contest continued. Teams had until December 31, 2016 to secure launch contracts, all Moon missions must be completed by December 31, 2017. Five verified teams remain – http://lunar.xprize.org/teams

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Lunar_X_Prize

Link below for other privately funded space endeavors –

http://www.space.com/20006-deep-space-missions-private-companies.html

Google Glue


Google readily accepts driverless vehicles pose credible concerns for pedestrian safety. The fact “no shit Sherlock” comes to mind shouldn’t detract from Google’s acceptance of initial perils. Undeterred by mistrust or skepticism, Google countered with a highly unusual safety measure.

Never let it be said that pragmatic logic spreads evenly across a population. Google decided to mitigate pedestrian injury rather than market unrealistic jibber-jabber. Unable to make sweeping assurances of safety, Google settled on an idea responsible for a patent issued on May 17, 2016.

What happens when pedestrians are struck by a car – they might be thrown, hit by a second vehicle, fall and find themselves dragged under a moving car, or bounced against hard surfaces. Accidents are inevitable, but what if victims “stuck” to the offending vehicle. Google patented adhesive strong enough to instantly hold a person at the moment of impact. A thin layer of protective “eggshell” cracks, releasing the life saving bond.

Allow me to raise a few concerns. How many pedestrians are hit head on? What happens to a pedestrian clipped on the leg? Are they glue snatched and pulled down the street? What happens when victims need immediate life saving medical intervention? Do paramedics pry them off? Is there an instant release solvent? If wide eyes glued an eyeball to the hood, would eyesight become a hood ornament? Would fender benders glue vehicles together?

A patent doesn’t necessarily mean Google intends to glue hapless pedestrians to robotic cars. That said, the effort suggests considerable time and resources spent on addressing pedestrian safety. Imagine being one of those tasked with finding a solution – brain storming sessions, ideas bandied from lip to trash can, fruitless days, weeks, months of stalemate. Perhaps it was late afternoon when one of them muttered “we could glue them to the hood”, prompted a unanimous chorus of ‘that’s it”.

I wouldn’t presume to know more than the great minds at Google. Common sense screams of a middle aged ponderer could be symptoms of age related technological ignorance. Yikes, what am I saying! Super-gluing accidental encounters (animate or otherwise) to the exterior of driverless vehicles elevates asinine to a whole new level.

Google Patents ‘Pedestrian Glue’ for Self-Driving Cars

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