After the conquest of the IT market all over the world, the Google Company has also become a leader in the innovative developments, which recently seemed to be fantastic. Among them, one can distinguish special glasses, which allow the user to call anybody and have the access to the Internet without the usage of any additional device, the unmanned aircrafts, which deliver the Internet to the places where the standard transceivers are not available, and provide the essential items to the places of various accidents, or even produce the electricity power in the layers of the stratosphere, etc. The indubitable purpose of the most of these technologies is the improvement of the living conditions for people. However, not all of them appear to have a positive impact on the society.
Google Self-Driven Cars
The idea of the Google self-driven cars assumes removing the human factor from the sphere of the road transport. The developers suppose that these vehicles can properly assess everything that happens on the road and, after the statistical evaluations, select the most suitable route of the movement (Guizzo, 2011). The latest versions of the self-driven cars are powered exclusively with the batteries and can cover about 160 kilometers without recharging. For the analysis of the situation on the road, the Google cars use the combination of the 3D-modeling of the environment with the lasers and the GPS, which collects the location data from the satellites, the radar and ultrasonic sensors (Guizzo, 2011). Radar can “see” through the surrounding objects and analyze the situation beyond the line of sight. For instance, it allows tracking and skipping a cyclist who is initially not seen because of the hedges or other obstacles and suddenly appears on the road. Google mobiles use Lidar (the laser rangefinder) – a system which measures the speed, at which the laser beams bounce off the reflective surfaces (Guizzo, 2011). This allows determining the distances to the various objects that surround the vehicle at the specific moment. Google self-driven cars use the software that analyzes the images made with the cameras on the vehicle and warns the driver about the pedestrians, cyclists, the road works and other objects that may be encountered on the way.
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While implementing this technology, Google faced some problems. One of the most significant problems is the ethical one, especially in cases when the car cannot avoid wounding people (Eddy, 2016). For instance, if the vehicle faces a large crowd and cannot stop quickly enough, it can turn away and hit the wall that will cause death or injuries of the driver and the passengers, or it can drive into the crowd. Or, alternatively, if there is the only one pedestrian in front of the car, it can hit them without exposing the driver to risk or drive into the wall as well. In such cases, it is not clear whether it is ethical enough to operate according to the principle of reducing the number of victims. Solving this problem cannot avoid the public involvement. The algorithms of cars’ actions in such situations should be solved not at the company level, but at the legislative one.
Even though the self-driven cars’ intellectual systems are superior the human and their driving skills, these vehicles are still not ready to operate in the real weather conditions (Eddy, 2016). The snow or heavy rains do not allow them to work correctly. The road repair works make the insurmountable obstacle for them as well. The developers plan to solve the problem by storing more information about the road situations.
One of the problems faced by the autonomous vehicles is the interaction between the drivers and pedestrians, which takes shape of the live communication (Eddy, 2016). For example, the self-driven car will not move if the pedestrian is located in the close vicinity of the roadway and performs any motion, even if such movements are the gestures, by which the pedestrian offers the driver to drive, making way for the vehicle. As a result, the car is waiting for the pedestrian, and the pedestrian is waiting for the car, creating the traffic delays on the road. Therefore, this problem, as the problem connected with the road works, needs some additional innovations for its solving. For instance, the NHTSA may adopt the special signals or movements, which will indicate the current situation on the street that will allow the self-driven car to choose the specific scenario. However, without the legislative support, the solution of these problems will be very quite problematic.
Experts consider that the self-driven car technology can save millions of lives, protect millions of people from the injuries, and save billions of dollars spent on the treatment, compensation of damage, repair, and litigation. Google predicted that the introduction of autonomous vehicles will decrease the number of accidents by 90%. They will relieve the traffic and ensure the free movement for the people who are not able to drive a car due to the suddenly failed health (Guizzo, 2011). No matter what arguments Bailey provides in his article (Bailey, 2014), the self-driven cars should not be mandated as the only vehicles since it violates the human right to make a choice between the speed and the safety, as the various cases can occur. However, it is too early to argue about this issue as the technology is still imperfect and faces a number of problems on the road. Concerning the managers’ work, it can reduce in the sphere of the public transport since the safe self-driven buses will have the modified dispatcher system.
The Makani Power Energy Kites
The Makani Power Energy Kites are the devices that are the on-board units serving for the generation of the electricity (Vlahos, 2011). The Energy Kite’s mechanism is similar to the airplane’s one, is equipped with the rotors and flies like a kite. The system includes four major parts: the “kite” itself, the cable, the on-ground station and the computer control system (Vlahos, 2011). During the takeoff, the rotors act as the propellers of an airplane, helping to lift the unit in the air at the desired height. Then, they switch to the wind turbine mode. Thus, each rotor becomes the separate propeller wind generator. The rotating section transmits the rotation energy to the on-board generator, which sends the energy through the cable for the subsequent feeding of the network (Vlahos, 2011). Since the Makani Power Energy Kites are quite light, they can fly at the high altitudes where the energy of the stronger and more stable winds is available. Thus, the generators are able to produce much more energy than the terrestrial ones. The on-ground station before the takeoff is a place of the Energy Kite’s parking (Vlahos, 2011).
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The computer system combines the GPS, the sensors and the other elements of the advanced technologies, which allow guiding the movement of the kite according to the trajectory, which leads to the generation of the electricity of greater amount (Vlahos, 2011). It is known that the efficiency of the conventional wind turbines strongly depends on the height of the mast. In addition, the giant blades require the consumption of the large quantity of the materials. Thus, they are extremely expensive, and take much space. Furthermore, there are serious limitations associated with the land allocation, where these generators can be set. From these standpoints, the Makani Power Energy Kites do not simply generate more power by 50%, but also reduce the need for the materials for their construction by 90% (Energy Inventions, 2015).
Since the energy was developed as the commercial proposal and the Makani Power Energy Kite is the drone, the implementation of this project has the same organizational problem as the implementation of the Project Wing. In many countries, including the USA, there is a ban against the usage of drones for the commercial purposes. Therefore, the representatives of Google actively negotiate with the authorities to solve this problem, and there is no way of finding the solution to this problem, except the diplomatic one.
Thus, the developers of the technology of the Makani Power Energy Kite tried to create the wind turbines with a greater capacity than the on-ground ones, which are more versatile in terms of the location and can be installed in places where the installation of the conventional turbines is impossible, and they succeeded. Now, the developed turbines have an undoubtedly beneficial impact on society as this technology ensures the clean electric energy production, being safer in the service on the ground and not requiring the usage of the cumbersome and costly equipment for its maintenance.
This technology, together with the Loon one, assuming the flight in the stratosphere, might be used for the reconnaissance in the other countries. Thus, it might mean the infringement of the rights of the local residents. Therefore, providing this technology, the developers are required to consider the maximum protection and safety of the transmitted data. The managers of the companies using this technology will have to appeal to the programmers, who could reconfigure the work of the station in case of its partial automation.
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The «Project Loon» assumes providing the wireless Internet access for the most remote corners of the planet with the usage of the balloons (Simonite, 2015). The aerostats, being up in the air, obtain the required energy from the solar panels and get the signal from the ground stations, which allows them to distribute the wireless Internet using the specific on-board equipment. Thus, they are the repeaters of the ground stations’ signals. Driven by the wind energy, the balloons form a single communication network (Simonite, 2015).
The balloons move freely at a distance of about 20 km above the Earth’s surface in its stratosphere (Simonite, 2015). All aerostat’s electronic equipment is supplied with the power from an array of the solar panels, which represent the modules of the flexible plastic enclosed in a lightweight aluminum frame. The highly efficient monocrystalline photocells are at the core of these modules. The performance of the solar unit makes about 100 Wh, which is sufficient for the operation of the on-board equipment during the day time, while the batteries can charge at night. The balloon has the robust shell made of several layers of the polyethylene. In the filled state, the shell’s width makes 15 m, and its height is about 12 meters. When there is a need to lower the aerostat, the gas is automatically released from the bowl (Simonite, 2015).
One of the biggest problems of Google’s balloons is the wind, which can cause the movement control problems (Boxall, 2015). The air currents in the upper atmosphere are not suitable for the uniform distribution of the aerostats. They probably will tend to collect at the equator or at the Earth’s poles, where their effectiveness and payback will be extremely low. The solution to this problem is the improved height control system. Thus, the balloon is equipped with the software, which can define the desired location of the balloons and send each of them into the stratosphere layer, the wind direction in which will move the aerostat to the required point (Boxall, 2015). For the improvement of the height control system, the producers should conduct more detailed studies of the stratospheric wind in a particular location.
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Another problem that Google faced implementing the Project Loon was the low speed of the network connection (about 2-3 Mb/s) and the need for the additional specific receiver to connect to the balloon station. It was solved by the improvement of the onboard equipment of the aerostats (Boxall, 2015). Now, they can operate in the 4G LTE technology frequency specter and use it for the transference of the signals. The users can connect to the balloon stations without any additional equipment, simply using their smartphone or Wi-Fi receivers. The bandwidth has increased as well: for the stations with the antenna, it makes up to 25 Mb/s and for a smartphone – up to 6 Mb/s (Boxall, 2015).
There are problems that are not a part of the technological process, but the organizational one (Boxall, 2015). They include flying of the aerostat over the territories of the different countries, crossing their borders and so on. The solution to these problems can be solved only at the state level.
The implementation of the Project Loon is of great importance. First and foremost, it will enable the local operators to provide the Internet services on the territories that are unavailable for other technologies, for instance, in Indonesia, which consists of more than 17,500 islands (Boxall, 2015). Here, the laying of the fiber optic cables needed for the transmission of the information, or the set up of the multiple towers for the mobile communication terminals are extremely difficult to implement. In addition, Google experts believe that in the long term this project will be much cheaper than the laying of the high-speed cables.
This technology might be used for the reconnaissance in the other countries. Thus, it might mean the infringement of the rights of the local residents. Therefore, just as with the Makani Power Energy Kites, the developers of this technology are required to consider the maximum protection and safety of the transmitted data. In their turn, the managers of the commercial companies, connected to the WWW through the balloons’ network in the distant and hardly reachable countries, where this technology will spread, will have to consider using the latest equipment for the collection and the transmission of the information, as Google Loons include only the innovative information transfer technologies.
As well as other Google projects, Project Wing was designed as a long-term initiative. Within its framework, the researchers designed the unmanned aerial vehicles for the commercial use, which are capable of the payload delivery (Anthony, 2014).
The drones of the Wing series are the quadrocopters, which seemingly copy the aerodynamic design of the flying wing. During the flight, they hold a horizontal position, turning to the vertical one for the takeoff and landing. This design allows increasing the speed and maintaining the ability of the hovering over an object. The board computer is located in the tail section, while the power units are placed in the bow (Anthony, 2014). The drones are equipped with the GPS navigator, accelerometers and gyroscopes, transceiver for the radio communication and the camera, which transmits the images to the command center. The drones’ management is carried out in the semi-automatic mode. The Envision system usually executes the majority of the flight tasks. However, in case of emergencies, the operator can intercept the control over the aircraft (Anthony, 2014). The wingspan of the Google’s Wing makes about one and a half meters, and its weight is about eight and a half kilograms. The prototype’s carrying capacity does not exceed one and a half kilogram. However, it can be increased in the series-produced drones.
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The foremost problem faced by Wing developers is the way the cargo is delivered to the recipient (Stewart, 2014). During the takeoff and landing, the aircraft spends a higher portion of the energy than during its holding in the air. In addition, the landing at the place of destination can lead to the injuries of the recipient from the propellers. The drones become the easy prey for the current unfavorable situations on the ground as well. Therefore, the developers decided to refuse from the drones’ landing at the destination point (Stewart, 2014). Now, the developers have several options of the cargo attachment and transmission system for the drones. Thus, the most promising idea seems the sinking of the cargo fixed on the fishing line. However, in this case, the need to provide metered tensile strength or fitted with a quick-mount coil to the drone cannot overturn a sharp jerk of a cargo bound. To test this idea, the developers have created a model of the drone with a boom and mounted fastening of a so-called “egg”, which is released together with the cargo (Stewart, 2014). There is also the possibility to deliver the load with the miniature parachutes, but in this case, it is necessary to take measures for the safe delivery of the often fragile goods.
There is the organizational problem connected with the implementation of the Google Project Wing as well. Again, it concerns the ban against the usage of drones for the commercial purposes. The solution to this problem is seen in the diplomatic negotiation (Stewart, 2014).
The Google’s drones of the Wing series can be used in the scenarios of the disaster mitigation (Anthony, 2014). Thus, the drones can execute the searches and immediately provide the emergency assistance for the found victims, which is of great benefit for the society. It is noteworthy, that the managers of the enterprises that will use this technology should use the moderated technologies, which provide the quickest data transferring to make the drones remotely controlled in the non-standard situation.
Google Glass is a special headset, which uses a mini projector, combined with a semi-transparent prism, to create the augmented reality layer and project it directly on the user’s retina. It allows displaying the most important information (the weather, SMS, missed calls, e-mail and so on) directly on the user’s retina without taking the smartphone out of the pocket (Bishop, 2015). At the same time, it allows taking the photos and videos with the integrated camera and using them as a normal headset for the calls. The Google Company does not disclose the accurate characteristics of the video projector, but some sources suggest that the user can see the image comparable with the 22-inch translucent display, located at a distance of 1.5-2 meters (Bishop, 2015).
The audio in the Google Glass is transmitted in not typical way as well. The user cannot see the dynamics as they are absent here. They can hear the sound due to the resonance of the skull bones, picked up by the inner ear (Bishop, 2015). If a person plugs their ears, the sound that comes from the Google Glass becomes clearer and louder. The latest version of these glasses comes with the specially designed headphones.
The touchpad , combined with the voice commands, is the main means of controlof the glasses (Bishop, 2015). The user has to deal with it constantly. It is noteworthy that the panel of the touchpad is sensitive and made of a pleasant rough plastic, which does not slip and is not easily smeared. The user accommodates to a set of the commands and the logic of the menu navigation instantly. The voice control operates on the basis of the normal Google voice recognition system (Bishop, 2015). However, the developers could not confine only to the tactile and voice control. The search option and typing the messages are sharpened exceptionally under the voice commands. At the same time, one can turn the pages only with the usage of the touchpad. This combination makes the basis of the Google Glasses’ control. The Google Glasses are equipped with the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interfaces to exchange the information with the phone and access the Internet respectively (Bishop, 2015).
The technology of the Google Glass is revolutionary; however, it is the reason why it is imperfect and its production faces various challenges. The first problem stems from the fact that it was not initially designed for the people with the poor eyesight. However, this problem is solved by creating the special corrective lenses produced directly for the Google Glasses (Bishop, 2015). The next problem is the overheating (Bishop, 2015). The regular contact with the body and the dense completing have a rather negative effect. Thus, the developers should consider the ventilation ways, which would facilitate the outflow of the heat from the device chips. The following challenge is the fact that it is impossible to implement just the touch or voice device control. For example, a person in the Google Glasses who walks down the street, talking to themselves and constantly nodding, clearly attracts the attention of the others. On the other hand, the presence of the touch control does not allow the usage of the glasses for the people with the paralyzed hands (Bishop, 2015). Thus, the developers should create the algorithms, which will implement only the one control way.
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The developers conceived the Google Glasses as the means for saving time working with the smartphone (Bishop, 2015). Undoubtedly, making this technology perfect would allow people with the disabilities, specifically those who cannot move their hands, to share information, typical for the smartphones. However, the imperfection of the technology is that it does not allow achieving the original objectives. Therefore, for the society at the current stage, the Google Glasses have more adverse impact, as they are more commonly used for the negative purposes, for instance, the theft of the information and the unauthorized copying of the films at cinemas (Barrie, 2014).
The Google Glass greatly resembles the spy device, so it can be used to steal the information. Thus, the managers of the companies that deal with the copyright protected information should enhance the measures of its detection and the protection from the same equipment. It is noteworthy that all Google technologies mentioned in the paper as any electronic device with the batteries, have the problem of their utilization. Thus, while implementing them, the developers should use less adverse for the environment materials and envisage the ways of their utilization.
In the recent years, the Google Company implemented a number of innovative, altruistic and often revolutionary technologies to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, being the implementation of the absolutely new ides, they all meet some challenges. However, among the listed above technologies, only the Google Glass has a harmful impact on the society, allowing the usage of this engineering marvel by the villains for the criminal purposes.
Among the mentioned above technologies, there are some that may presuppose the violation of the human rights, for instance, spying from the stratosphere or using the special glasses. Therefore, in the case of the Energy Kites or the Project Loon, the developer should provide the maximum level of the transmitted information security. In the case of the Google Glass technology, the managers of the companies that deal with the copyright protected information should enhance the measures of its detection and the protection from the same equipment.
All Google technologies mentioned in the paper, as any electronic device with the batteries, assume the problem of their utilization. Thus, while designing them, the developers should use less adverse for the environment materials and envisage the ways of their utilization.