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Google: supporter of odd inventions?

A self-driving car is just the latest in Google’s strange investments…

Image: joelogon via Creative Commons

Today, Google announced its investment in a wind-farm which aims to power around 2 million homes in the US.

Last week, the company launched self-drive cars.

But a self-driving car is just one of Google’s odd initiatives:

A man-powered monorail

Late last month, Google announced it was investing $1m in a pedal-powered monorail system in New Zealand. Users sit in suspended pods below the rail and cycle their way along the track at up to 28 miles per hour. The company involved, Shweeb, has yet to announce where the first public network will be built.

The system’s inventor, Geoff Barnett, says that the pods will allow people to get around their city quickly and easily, and has the “added advantages of being environmentally friendly and offering an aerobic workout”.

Predicting the future

Google invested an undisclosed sum (but reportedly less than $10m) in a company which claims to be able to predict the future.

Recorded Future analyses web content for links between people and events to show online momentum for events. The company told Wired that it “can assemble actual real-time dossiers on people”.

One of the company’s other investors is the CIA’s investment wing, In-Q-Tel.

Investing in housing

It’s not glamorous and it’s not high-tech, but it’s good for the company finances.

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Google’s investments in low-income housing in the US meanthe company can offset taxes on its profits. The deal helps make more affordable housing available, according to Bloomberg, and means Google can pay under $1 for a dollar worth of tax.

Googlenaps (pictured)

Employees at Google’s Californian HQ can enjoy a refreshing nap during the day by popping into one of the company’s ‘energy pods’, according to BusinessInsider.

These bad boys will set you back some €12,000 apiece (not including international shipping). The pods are designed in line with NASA technology to create “a cocoon from outside noise and distractions”, according to manufacturer Metronaps.

The unit occupies the same space as a sofa, and will ensure you are “gently woken with a combination of lighting and vibration”.

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