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Google Gets Serious About Robots

Google Gets Serious About Robots
Image credit: modernl.com

In the same week that Amazon revealed plans for delivery-drone domination, it has emerged that Google is getting serious about revolutionizing the robotics industry.

Over the past six months, Google has acquired seven tech companies as it aims to develop the next generation of robots. Spearheading the effort is Andy Rubin, the engineer responsible for developing Google’s Android mobile phone software.

Google won’t divulge the specifics, but The New York Times reports the effort is geared toward creating robotics for the manufacturing sector, not the everyday consumer. Experts say the technology could be used to automate parts of existing supply chains such as electronics assembly or factory floor operations. Some speculate that the technology could eventually be deployed to automate part of its home delivery service. According to Rubin, there are abundant opportunities to further automate the manufacturing and logistics sectors.

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After leaving the top spot in the Android smartphone division in March, Rubin persuaded Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to invest in his new project. Neither Google nor Rubin would specify the size of the investment.

Rubin told the Times that technological breakthroughs still needed to occur in order to make his project viable but compared it to Google’s self-driving car.

“The automated car project was science fiction when it started,” Rubin says. “Now it is coming within reach.”

Rubin has already acquired several companies in Japan and the U.S. that are developing humanoid robots, computer vision systems and automated mobility systems.

For now, Google’s robotics division will be based in Palo Alto, Calif., with an additional office in Japan. 

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Benjamin Kabin is a Brooklyn-based technology journalist who specializes in security, startups, venture capital and social media.

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