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The latest chapter for the self-driving car: mastering city street driving

Category: Google | Apr 28, 2014

Jaywalking pedestrians. Cars lurching out of hidden driveways. Double-parked delivery trucks blocking your lane and your view. At a busy time of day, a typical city street can leave even experienced drivers sweaty-palmed and irritable. We all dream of a world in which city centers are freed of congestion from cars circling for parking (PDF) and have fewer intersections made dangerous by distracted drivers. That’s why over the last year we’ve shifted the focus of the Google self-driving car project onto mastering city street driving.

Since our last update, we’ve logged thousands of miles on the streets of our hometown of Mountain View, Calif. A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to different rules of the road in a small area. We’ve improved our software so it can detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously—pedestrians, buses, a stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or a cyclist making gestures that indicate a possible turn. A self-driving vehicle can pay attention to all of these things in a way that a human physically can’t—and it never gets tired or distracted.

Here’s a video showing how our vehicle navigates some common scenarios near the Googleplex:

As it turns out, what looks chaotic and random on a city street to the human eye is actually fairly predictable to a computer. As we’ve encountered thousands of different situations, we’ve built software models of what to expect, from the likely (a car stopping at a red light) to the unlikely (blowing through it). We still have lots of problems to solve, including teaching the car to drive more streets in Mountain View before we tackle another town, but thousands of situations on city streets that would have stumped us two years ago can now be navigated autonomously.

Our vehicles have now logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles, and with every passing mile we’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an achievable goal—a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention.

Posted by Chris Urmson, Director, Self-Driving Car Project

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/HB0ybJ7SAtQ/the-latest-chapter-for-self-driving-car.html

Through the Google lens: search trends April 18-24

Category: Google | Apr 25, 2014

From Lupita topping the People 50 to LaMarcus dropping 46, it’s time to look again at the top trending items on Google Search.

The games we play
The NBA and NHL playoffs both kicked off in earnest this week, and searches for hockey and basketball topics lit up the scoreboard. In fact, the Chicago Blackhawks occupied a post in Google’s Hot Searches list every day but one since last Friday. The defending Stanley Cup champions are playing a tight (and, as of Wednesday, tied) series against the St. Louis Blues; they also drew controversy this weekend when stories emerged of the Blackhawks taunting Blues captain David Backes after a hit that got the Hawks’ Brent Seabrook suspended.

In the NBA, it was all about the big plays. Searches for the OKC Thunder’s Kevin Durant peaked after he made a ridiculous four-point play while (and I don’t use this word lightly) literally falling out of bounds on Tuesday. The last time Durant came close to this level of search interest was on January 30, after a 12-game 30+ point scoring streak. And the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge was on fire on the court and on Google, scoring more than 40 points in his team’s first two playoff games against the Houston Rockets… on the road—making him one of only three players ever to do so. On a more somber note, searches were also high for longtime sideline reporter Craig Sager, who revealed on Sunday that he has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

Moving to the diamond, [pine tar] was the top searched topic overall on Wednesday after Yankees’ starting pitcher Michael Pineda was caught red-handed (and sticky-necked) using the substance, a violation of MLB rules, while elsewhere in the American League the Angels’ Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run. And during Monday’s Boston Marathon (a trending topic both this week and last), Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the race in more than 30 years, making him a “breakout,” with nearly 1,000% increase in search interest over the last year on Google Search.

Stranger than fiction
Alongside searches for Easter and Earth Day, there were a few unconventional celebrations this week. Dyngus Day, a Polish-American holiday taking place on Easter Monday and similar to Poland’s Śmigus-Dyngus and Hungary’s Vízbevető, was a top topic in search on Monday (O.K., so it wasn’t the top topic, but it was top of mind for many). Traditionally celebrated by boys throwing water over girls, in the U.S. Dyngus Day celebrations include parades, traditional foods and polka music. Whatever its origins, interest in Dyngus Day has been growing steadily the past two years since barely registering on Search in 2012.

What the… powdered alcohol?! That’s what some people were thinking when they searched for [Palcohol], a powder that turns water into alcoholic drinks. It was approved by U.S. regulators earlier in the month, but this week the decision was rescinded. And when a 15-year-old boy caught a ride from San Jose, Calif., to Hawaii in an airplane wheel well, stunned searchers came to Google looking for images of wheel wells to understand how someone might survive such a feat—especially without the beverage cart.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [chekhov gun first act] and [hedgehogs in costumes]

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/RKxFuEzmToI/through-google-lens-search-trends-april.html

Explore new careers with the first virtual Take Your Classroom to Work Day

Category: Google | Apr 24, 2014

For 21 years, Take Your Child To Work Day has helped kids understand what moms and dads do all day after they leave the house. And even if kids don’t realize it at the time, it also serves an important role in helping youngsters learn about what kinds of jobs they could do when they grow up. Unfortunately, not all kids are lucky enough to get these opportunities.

Today, we’re giving kids everywhere a chance to “visit” some of the world’s most exciting workplaces. Working with Forbes, Connected Classrooms is hosting 18 virtual field trips to places like the Georgia Aquarium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Stanford National Lab and the Chicago Bulls locker room, using Google Hangouts. Professionals from all walks of life will discuss their day-to-day roles and how they got there, so students—regardless of budget or geography—can be exposed to a wide range of careers and get excited about their future.

The full list of events is available on Forbes’ site, but here’s a preview of what you can expect:

We hope you’ll tune in at 6am PT for the first career hangout, and check out Connected Classrooms throughout the day for new, live field trips.

Posted by Lisa Jiang, Google+ Education Partnership Lead

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/twEHzBT_cGk/explore-new-careers-with-first-virtual.html

Go back in time with Street View

Category: Google | Apr 23, 2014

If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now’s your chance. Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We’ve gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.

If you see a clock icon in the upper left-hand portion of a Street View image, click on it and move the slider through time and select a thumbnail to see that same place in previous years or seasons.

Now with Street View, you can see a landmark’s growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter.

Construction of the Freedom Tower, New York City
Destruction in Onagawa, Japan after the 2011 earthquake

Forget going 88 mph in a DeLorean—you can stay where you are and use Google Maps to virtually explore the world as it is—and as it was. Happy (time) traveling!

Posted by Vinay Shet, Google Street View Product Manager

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/SdaUL048ZmQ/go-back-in-time-with-street-view.html

Going solar with SunPower

Category: Google | Apr 23, 2014

Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet. Yesterday we announced our biggest renewable energy purchase yet: an agreement with our Iowa utility partners to supply our data center facilities there with up to 407 megawatts of wind energy.

Today, we’re taking another step towards a clean energy future with a major new investment. Together with SunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems—making it easier for thousands of households across the U.S. to go solar. Essentially, this is how it works: Using the fund ($100 million from Google and $150 million from SunPower), we buy the solar panel systems. Then we lease them to homeowners at a cost that’s typically lower than their normal electricity bill. So by participating in this program, you don’t just help the environment—you can also save money.

A home sporting SunPower solar panels

SunPower delivers solar to residential, utility and commercial customers and also manufacturers its own solar cells and panels.They’re known for having high-quality, high reliability panels which can generate up to 50 percent more power per unit area, with guaranteed performance and lower degradation over time. That means that you can install fewer solar panels to get the same amount of energy. And SunPower both makes the panels and manages the installation, so the process is seamless.

This is our 16th renewable energy investment and our third residential rooftop solar investment (the others being with Solar City and Clean Power Finance). Overall we’ve invested more than $1 billion in 16 renewable energy projects around the world, and we’re always on the hunt for new opportunities to make more renewable energy available to more people—Earth Day and every day.

Posted by Rob Parker, Renewable energy team

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/nJHav8Sw5t0/going-solar-with-sunpower.html

Ok Glass… Let’s celebrate Earth Day

Category: Google | Apr 22, 2014

Part of honoring Earth Day is celebrating the people who dedicate their lives to protecting our planet’s most vulnerable species. You’ll find one of those people in the tall grasslands of Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, where Sabita Malla, a senior research officer at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is hard at work protecting rhinos and Bengal tigers from poaching. She spends her days collecting data about wildlife in order to track the animals, assess threats, and provide support where needed. Now, she’s getting help from something a bit unexpected: Google Glass.

Last year, WWF started exploring how smart eyewear could help further its conservation mission in the Arctic and the Amazon as part of the Giving through Glass Explorer program. Now they’ve brought it to Nepal to see how it could help monitor wild rhinos. Take a peek:

Rhino monitoring can be a slow process, especially in habitats with tricky terrain, but data collection is crucial for making the right conservation decisions. Most parts of Chitwan National Park are inaccessible to vehicles, so Sabita and her team ride in on elephants, and have been collecting health and habitat data using pencil and paper.

Now custom-built Glassware (the Glass version of apps) called Field Notes can help Sabita do her work hands-free instead of gathering data in a notebook. That’s helpful for both accuracy and safety when you’re on an elephant. Using voice commands, Sabita and other researchers can take photos and videos, and map a rhino’s location, size, weight, and other notable characteristics. The notes collected can also be automatically uploaded to a shared doc back at the office, making it easier to collaborate with other researchers, and potentially a lot faster than typing up handwritten notes.

This is just one example of a nonprofit exploring how Glass can make their critical work easier. Today, we’re looking for more ideas from you.

If you work at a nonprofit and have an idea for how to make more of a difference with Glass, share your ideas at g.co/givingthroughglass by 11:59 PDT on May 20, 2014. Five U.S.-based nonprofits will get a Glass device, a trip to a Google office for training, a $25,000 grant, and help from Google developers to make your Glass project a reality.

To learn more about Google.org’s ongoing collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, visit this site.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/IPT7gFYuDr4/ok-glass-lets-celebrate-earth-day.html

Through the Google lens: this week’s search trends

Category: Google | Apr 18, 2014

What did you search for this week? What about everyone else? Starting today, we’ll be sharing a regular look back at some of the top trending items on Google Search. Let’s dive in.

From afikomen to 1040EZ
People were looking for information on Palm Sunday and Good Friday ahead of Easter; searches for both days were even higher than searches for the Pope himself. Turning to another religious tradition, with Passover beginning on Monday we saw searches rise over 100 percent for Seder staples like [charoset recipe], [brisket passover] and of course [matzo balls]. Alongside these celebrations, U.S. citizens observed another annual rite of spring: taxes were due on April 15, leading to a rise in searches for [turbotax free], [irs] and (whoops) [turbotax extension].

But what made this year different from all other years? A rare lunar eclipse known as the “blood moon,” when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon, making it look red, and which occurred on Tuesday. There were more than 5 million searches on the topic, as people were eager to learn more. (Hint: if you missed seeing the blood moon this time around, keep your eyes on the sky in October. This is the first lunar eclipse in a “lunar tetrad,” a series of four total lunar eclipses each taking place six lunar months apart.)

Say goodbye and say hello
This week marked the first anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, and commemorations led searches for the term [boston strong] to rise once again. And just yesterday, we were saddened by the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian writer best known for his masterpiece “100 Years of Solitude”—not to mention responsible for high schoolers across the U.S. knowing the term “magical realism.” On a happier note, former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton announced she’s expecting.

Entertainment that makes you go ZOMG
“Game of Thrones” fans—at least those who hadn’t read the books—were treated to a bombshell in this past Sunday’s episode when (spoiler alert) yet another wedding turned murderous. Searches for [who killed joffrey] skyrocketed as people struggled to process the loss of the boy king we love to hate. On the more sedate end of the Sunday TV spectrum, we welcomed back AMC’s “Mad Men,” which continues to provide viewers with plenty of innuendo, allusion and fashion to chew on—and search for—in between episodes.

The trailer for the highly anticipated film version of “Gone Girl” dropped this week—vaulting searches for [gone girl trailer] nearly 1,000 percent—as did a clip from another book-to-movie remake, “The Fault in Our Stars.” Between these two films we expect no dry eyes in June and no intact fingernails come October. At least we’ve got something funny to look forward to: as news broke this week that Fox 2000 is developing a sequel to the 1993 comedy classic “Mrs. Doubtfire,” searches on the subject have since spiked.

And that’s it for this week in search. If you’re interested in exploring trending topics on your own, check out Google Trends. And starting today, you can also sign up to receive emails on your favorite terms, topics, or Top Charts for any of 47 countries.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [gossip girl vulture recaps] and [tron bike lights]

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/IOGnJ2auPHI/through-google-lens-this-weeks-search.html

Providing more CS professional development for K-12 teachers with an expanded CS4HS

Category: Google | Apr 17, 2014

For more than five years, we’ve provided free and inexpensive teacher professional development trainings in computer science education through Computer Science for High School (CS4HS). In this program, Google provides funding and support for experts to create hands-on professional development training in CS education for K-12 educators. The goal is to arm teachers with the knowledge they need to help their students succeed in the field. The program has already trained more than 12,000 teachers, and reached more than 600,000 students—and we’ve gotten great feedback over the years (a 95% satisfaction rate!).

It’s been a great success, but there is still much more to do. So this year, we’re taking the first steps toward extending CS4HS across the globe. We’re piloting CS4HS projects in Latin America for the first time—an area where computer science education is often mistaken for computer literacy (think word processing, typing, or changing settings on your operating system rather than robotics or coding a game). We’re also introducing eight new online workshops, so teachers no longer need to be located near a CS4HS event to get quality training.

It’s not just the “where” we’re expanding, but the “when,” as well. We’re now providing new resources for teachers to get ongoing, year-round help. Our Google+ Community page hosts Hangouts on Air with CS industry leaders, Googlers, and top educators on a regular basis. And we’ve added a new Resources page with online workshops, tutorials and information on computational thinking, robotics and more. Finally, if you happen to be in the neighborhood at the right time, sign up for one of our in-person workshops available around the world in these locations:

Posted by Erin Mindell Cannon, Google Education Program Manager

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/IhZW1hwYle0/providing-more-cs-professional.html

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Category: Google | Apr 8, 2014

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Category: Google | Apr 8, 2014

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