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Google Was Working On A Space Elevator And A Hoverboard, But Never Got Them To Work

Google Was Working On A Space Elevator And A Hoverboard, But Never Got Them To Work

by Brad MerrillApril 15, 2014


Google X, the search company’s lab responsible for “moonshot” projects like Google Glass, self-driving cars, and Project Loon, has unsuccessfully tried to build a space elevator, according to Fast Company.

Google X ran into problems due to material limitations. In order for it to work, Google would need a cable that is “at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel we have,” Google X employee Dan Piponi told Fast Company.

The team did find one material that could work—carbon nanotubes—but no one has successfully made a perfect carbon nanotube strand longer than a meter. That put the space elevator project in “a deep freeze,” but Google is still keeping its eye on carbon nanotube advancements.

hoverboardGoogle X also toyed with the idea of a hoverboard. It considered using magnets to keep the hoverboard aloft, but since magnets have a tendency to shift polarities, the hoverboard would constantly flip over.

The team also considered other materials, but eventually decided it would be too expensive, especially for a project that wouldn’t have a great impact on society and the economy.

Projects at Google X have to abide by a general rule: they must address a problem that affects millions of people by utilizing a radical solution that resembles science fiction, all while using obtainable technologies.

“When we let it go, it’s a positive thing,” Google X Rapid Evaluation Team and Design Lead Richard DeVaul told Fast Company. “We’re saying, ‘This is great: Now we get to work on other things.'”

About The Author
Brad Merrill
Brad Merrill is the founder and former editor of VentureBreak.