News / Science & Technology

Google Buys Another Robotics Firm

Boston Dynamics robot BigDog is seen climbing over a pile of rubble. The company was recently bought by tech giant Google for an undisclosed amount. (Boston Dynamics)
Boston Dynamics robot BigDog is seen climbing over a pile of rubble. The company was recently bought by tech giant Google for an undisclosed amount. (Boston Dynamics)

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VOA News
Google has bought another robotics firm – the eighth robotics firm it has purchased recently – making it a leader in the robotics industry. 

The latest acquisition is Boston Dynamics, maker of robots for the U.S. military, including Cheetah, the world's fastest-running robot as well as other animal-like machines.

Google has been coy about the type of robots it’s looking to develop, but the company has put Andy Rubin in charge of the effort. He was in charge of Google’s popular Android operating system.

In a statement on his Google+ page, Google co-founder Larry Page wrote of the Boston Dynamics purchase, “I am excited about Andy Rubin's next project.  His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets.  It is still very early days for this, but I can't wait to see the progress.”

The price of the purchase has yet to be made public.

Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 and largely develops robots for the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Many of those robots such as BigDog and WildCat, are well-known because of YouTube videos showing them in action.

Some analysts say Google’s foray into robotics means it’s trying to develop a robot that could potentially deliver goods to people at home and at work.   Amazon recently proposed developing robotic drones that could do that, but analysts say Google’s robots would likely make the deliveries in self-driving vehicles – a technology that Google is actively developing at its headquarters in California. 

Google has already begun to experimenting with a grocery delivery service in the San Francisco Bay area called Google Shopping Express. 

Google’s robotics team will be headquartered in Palo Alto, California, with an office in Japan, a leader in the robotics industry.

"I feel with robotics it's a green field," Rubin told the New York Times. "We're building hardware, we're building software. We're building systems, so one team will be able to understand the whole stack."

The previous companies Google has acquired are Autofuss, Bot & Dolly, Holomni, Industrial Perception, Meka Robotics, Redwood Robotics and Schaft.

Below is a video of Boston Dynamics robot Atlas, an anthropomorphic robot designed to operate on rough terrain.

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