These humble-looking contraptions were revealed in a Google patent application for a "heliostat control system" that automatically adjusts solar thermal mirrors to their optimal energy-harvesting angle. A camera and computer are housed in the central tower that receives heat from the mirrors, and together they detect when a heliostat is misaligned and then correct it using actuators. Sound like a strange distraction for an Internet company? Google thinks not. It's already invested $168 million in the world's largest solar tower in the Mojave Desert as part of its effort to both reduce its own massive electricity bill and diversify its business. It's also currently hiring three new technical staff to make this happen. Interested?

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Google's search for future profit targets the Sun, not just the cloud