Feature Story - In-Class Assignment

Tom Gilbert – The Man Helps Tech Company to Take a Share of Auto Making
Google is about to launch the semi-self-driving electric car – Google G1


“One hundred eight months and twenty-two days.  That was the time we spent in the lab for Google G1’s creation,” says Tom Gilbert, the chief engineer of Google self-driving car project, as well as the main designer of Google G1, in the roll-out event.  “From a concept on the whiteboard to the blueprint, to the clay model, until the mass production of Google G1 that you can see now, it was just like creating a piece of art.”

The founding of Google’s self-driving car project dates back to 2009 and Tom Gilbert was the first employee of this project since he holds double doctoral degrees in car engineering and AI technology.  “Car invention sounds fun but actually it is boring most of the time because millions of tests and verifications can easily destroy one’s mind,” said Gilbert.  However, Gilbert and his team have made it work. 

The launch event of Google G1- the three-mode, semi-self-driving electric car with a price-point around $40,000 – proves that what Gilbert and his team pursue is worthy and self-driving is not just a dream.  Different from the first Google Car - a tiny, two-seated, slow, self-driving car - Google G1 is designed to be a high-performance electric car embedded with the Google-powered operation system (GOS). 

This is a big leap.

While reviewing the transcript before giving a speech that represents his team and himself on Google G1’s roll-out event, Gilbert is nervous.  He can spend several days explaining this piece of artwork because every detail reflects his and his team’s thoughts and efforts.  However, he only has a brief fifteen minutes to let the world know about Google G1.  What should he say?

He can talk about the difficulties of increasing the mileage up to 500 miles per charging-hour, which is the perfect balance of energy-saving and energy efficiency.  He can also talk about the barriers of reducing the cost of every single part to keep Google G1 at an affordable price.  However, he decides to talk about self-driving, which is the ultimate goal of the project.

Gilbert and Google believe that self-driving, such a big and controversial topic in the auto industry, is to make the road safer, save people’s time on driving, and improve the mobility.  After numerous field tests, Google G1 achieves self-driving at a speed of thirty miles per hour in a condition of little traffic.  To increase its safety, Gilbert and his team set about approximately a hundred sensors that cooperate with the security software around the car to detect obstacles, including pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles, and road work, within three miles in 360 degrees.

This roll-out event is just the beginning of Google’s self-driving car project in the long run, which means there is still a long way for Gilbert and his team to go.  The mass production of Google G1 is in progress and the cars will hit Google Car’s U.S. showrooms by the end of this year.  Even though customers can visit Google G1’s website to purchase the car in advance, Gilbert says he has placed an order as the first customer already.


About Alphabet Inc.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in September 1998. Since then, the company has grown to more than 80,000 employees worldwide, with a wide range of popular products and platforms like Search, Maps, Ads, Gmail, Android, Chrome, and YouTube. In October 2015, Alphabet became the parent holding company of Google.


About Google

Google, the tech giant that specializes in Internet-related services and products, see itself as a data-driven, human-focused, innovative nonprofit organization - which focuses on education, economic opportunity, inclusion, crisis responses, and impact challenge to bring the best experience to everyone. Google’s services include: its search engine, cloud computing, online advertising technologies, and software segments. Google also offers a number of hardware products, including: phones, home and entertainment devices, laptops and VR devices. In August 2015, Google announced plans to restructure itself into a new conglomerate called Alphabet Inc., which means the Google we used to know is now under the umbrella of Alphabet Inc.



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