Bulletins

To fight climate change, Google wants AI to control traffic lights

The research project was announced as part of an update on the company's various sustainability initiatives.

illustration of Google's efforts to use AI for less wait times at traffic lights

Google wants people to spend less time waiting for lights to turn green.

Image: Google

Google has begun a pilot project to test the impact AI-optimized traffic lights can have on congestion and emissions, the company revealed Wednesday as part of a broader update on its efforts to fight climate change.


Google's researchers began testing ways to train AI on traffic congestion patterns, and adjust light phases accordingly, at four locations in Israel; these tests resulted in a reduction of 10% to 20% of fuel consumption and wait time at intersections that were part of the test. The company will begin testing the technology in Rio de Janeiro soon, and is in conversations with other cities around the globe as well.

Google revealed the tests as part of an update on a range of sustainability initiatives, which also included the following announcements:

  • Google's hardware unit is launching a Nest Renew service for Nest thermostat owners that will help them shift energy usage to times when most of their local utility's electricity comes from renewable sources. A $10 Nest Renew Premium subscription will match carbon-based electricity consumption with renewable energy credits.
  • Google Maps will now include eco-friendly routes; the new feature highlights shorter routes even when they take a little longer, and was first announced by Google earlier this year.
  • The company is making it easier to search for climate-friendly appliances, vehicles, flights and hotels on Google, and will start to make information about the climate impact of personal investment portfolios available on Google Finance.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai painted these announcements as part of a broader mission to fight climate change, that also includes turning Google into a carbon-free company by 2030. "We think of this as a moonshot," he said. "We're up to the challenge."

Latest Bulletins

A federally-funded AI research cloud is moving forward, and startups should be able to join the party.

A task force set up to design The National AI Research Resource, or NAIRR, a repository of data, tools and computing power needed to develop machine learning and other AI systems, published a preliminary report today outlining plans and expectations for the service.

Keep Reading Show less

Carbon dioxide removal will soon be written into Finnish law: In a historic Wednesday vote, the country’s Parliament approved a new Climate Change Act that would commit the country to carbon neutrality by 2035, and carbon negativity 2040.

Keep Reading Show less

Peter Thiel has officially stepped down from Meta's board, a position he's held since Facebook was in its infancy. The company announced that Thiel would be leaving the board in February.

Now, Thiel looks poised to spend even more of his time, attention and money on backing conservative political candidates ahead of the midterms. He's already a top donor to Ohio senate candidate J.D. Vance and Arizona senate candidate Blake Masters, former president of the Thiel foundation. Thiel recently spent another $3.5 million on Masters' campaign.

Keep Reading Show less

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is leaving the company's board of directors, effective Wednesday, Axios reported.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon successfully beat back a record-high 15 proposals from activists and worker advocates at its annual shareholder meeting today, maintaining the company’s track record of winning votes despite increased enthusiasm for the proposals.

Keep Reading Show less

A new comprehensive report has found that many remote learning apps used during the pandemic tracked students and shared their information with advertisers for targeted ads.

The report by Human Rights Watch examined 164 ed tech tools and websites used in the US and 48 other countries and found that 89% of the apps "appeared to engage in data practices that put children’s rights at risk.” Some of those apps were found to be sharing that data with marketers and data brokers.

Keep Reading Show less

Just weeks after one of the Terra blockchain's signature cryptocurrencies collapsed, here comes the reboot.

Token holders approved a plan to relaunch the Terra blockchain and distribute new tokens of the luna cryptocurrency by a wide margin Wednesday morning. Do Kwon, the crypto entrepreneur behind Terra, offered the plan as a way to salvage the Terra blockchain after luna and the connected UST algorithmic stablecoin, also known as TerraUSD, lost nearly all value in a sell-off after it lost its peg to the dollar earlier this month.

Keep Reading Show less

Lyft has joined Uber, Meta, Robinhood and a slew of other tech companies in slowing hiring and focusing on critical open roles, though the company is reportedly not planning layoffs, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Keep Reading Show less

Tesla is pushing for changes to Texas’ energy market rules that would allow anyone with solar panels or battery storage to essentially sell excess power back to the grid. The company wants residential owners to be able to participate in the market, including, of course, owners of Tesla's residential products, like its Powerwall.

Tesla is framing its ask as a bid to insulate the Texas grid from the kinds of demand spikes that have caused major blackouts in the past: a gesture of good corporate citizenship, if you will. It doesn’t hurt that it would come with the added benefit of making Tesla’s products even more attractive.

Keep Reading Show less

LAS VEGAS - The software industry is in the midst of a tumultuous time. But at ServiceNow, CEO Bill McDermott is nothing but optimistic about the vendor’s outlook.

Keep Reading Show less

ClickUp laid off 7% of its staff on Monday morning, in a move that was called “unexpected” by several laid-off employees on LinkedIn. CEO Zeb Evans told Protocol the goal was to ensure ClickUp’s profitability and efficiency in the future.

"Yesterday, we made restructuring changes to optimize our business for utmost efficiency," Evans said. "In doing so, this puts us in a position to accelerate our timeline to profitability and ultimately achieve our goal of going public. We are by no means slowing down or pausing hiring, as we plan to hire 250 people this year and 300 more next year."

Keep Reading Show less

Ousted WeWork founder Adam Neumann is moving into crypto.

Flowcarbon, which counts Neumann and his wife Rebekah as co-founders, said Tuesday it has raised $70 million combined in venture funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz's crypto fund, and a token sale. The startup hopes to sell tokenized carbon credits on the blockchain.

Keep Reading Show less

A recent report from Andreessen Horowitz illustrates a sad state of affairs for the fintech industry, which has gotten clobbered in the tech-stocks downdraft. A chart included in the report shows fintech valuations in sharper decline than any other sector, by a significant margin.

Keep Reading Show less

Netflix is setting its sights on gaming beyond mobile, if a survey sent to subscribers this week is any indication. In the survey, the company asked respondents at length about their own gaming habits as well as their familiarity with a variety of game subscription services, including Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus and Apple Arcade.

Keep Reading Show less

A California judge ruled that the sexual harassment case against Tesla can continue in court, despite the fact that the worker who brought the case had previously signed an arbitration agreement giving up her right to sue.

Keep Reading Show less

Startups that soared throughout the pandemic are now feeling the crunch, and on-demand grocery company Gorillas is the latest victim. The company announced Tuesday that it's laying off half its corporate staff, or about 300 employees around the world.

Keep Reading Show less

Netflix is releasing three new games Tuesday and plans to release Exploding Kittens, its most high-profile original game, on May 31, the company announced on Tuesday. Netflix says its catalog now includes 22 games in total.

Keep Reading Show less

Barely more than two weeks after it agreed to stop selling its existing collection of face prints to private entities, facial recognition firm Clearview AI has a brand new plan to sell its software to private companies instead.

Keep Reading Show less

LGBTQ+ workers are generally less satisfied with their employers than their straight, cisgender colleagues are, according to a new report from Glassdoor. But some companies are more popular with their LGBTQ+ employees than others.

Keep Reading Show less

Last year saw a notable jump in ransomware attacks that included exfiltration of data as a component, highlighting an ongoing shift in the way the attacks are monetized, according to Verizon's major annual breach report.

Keep Reading Show less

Snap is the latest tech giant to join The Great Hunkering Down. Like other social media companies that flourished during lockdown, the company is struggling to meet earnings estimates and will slow hiring.

Keep Reading Show less

Spotify stopped hosting political ads on its services in early 2020, citing a lack of “robustness” in its systems, ahead of what turned out to be the ugliest U.S. election in recent history.

Two years later, as the midterm primaries get going, the company is courting political advertisers once again, according to a company presentation and marketing email viewed by Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less

Quality assurance testers at Call of Duty studio Raven Software have voted overwhelmingly to form a union with the Communications Workers of America, marking a historic labor victory for the video game industry. The vote, with the Milwaukee office of the National Labor Relations Board, was 19-3.

Keep Reading Show less

Federal labor prosecutors in California plan to file a complaint against Activision Blizzard for illegally threatening workers if the company doesn't agree to a settlement, according to National Labor Relations Board spokesperson Kayla Blado.

Keep Reading Show less

Swedish "buy now, pay later" company Klarna is laying off 10% of its workforce, CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski told staff via a pre-recorded video call Monday. Interest in pay-later products has sagged somewhat as consumers have felt more financially strapped and advocates in the U.S. began investigating the deferred payment plans last year. Klarna has reportedly been looking for more funding, potentially at a lower valuation.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins