Not content with hegemonic domination of the Internets, Google is now seeking dominion over the open road. Earlier this week (read: yesterday), Google and Pacific Gas & Electric tested a collection of hybrid vehicles that could turn the industry on its head (roof?).
On display were six Toyota Prius and Ford Escape vehicles that were modified to run partly on electricity from the power grid. The addition allows vehicles to travel about 75 miles on a single gallon of gas — which is roughly double the distance that current hybrids travel on a gallon.
That’s not really the interesting part though, as similar chargeable cars have existed in the past. The real point of note is that the vehicles can give energy back to the grid. Although the technology is still in the early stages of development, the idea is that the electric company will be able to store power in car batteries during off-peak hours. Then when grid loads increase during the day, the company can draw energy from the cars. Sure it only amounts to a slight amount from one car, but if there were hordes of them, it could equal something more practical.
Another cool bit is that Google has placed the cars in carports equipped with solar cells that contribute heavily to the charging of the cars. I find this to be probably the coolest part of it all. Solar cells charging cars holds a very appealing sort of self-sufficiency to the dirty hippie apparently hiding inside me.