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Google investing heavily in advanced robotics, buys renowned military contractor

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
Google's latest high-profile acquisition is raising eyebrows worldwide, as the search giant has bought a Boston-based robotics company that specializes in lifelike walking machines built for military projects -- creations that have proven extremely popular in online videos.

Boston Dynamics


Boston Dynamics has become famous for its advanced robots funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Its most notable creation is "BigDog," a four-legged robot that has gained a reputation online for being both fascinating and terrifying.

Google has confirmed to The New York Times that it acquired Boston Dynamics, making it the eighth robotics company acquired by the Mountain View, Calif., operation in the last six months. Exactly what Google plans to do with the technology remains unknown, as does the price it paid for Boston Dynamics.



Google did say that despite the purchase of military-partner Boston Dynamics, the Android maker has no intention of becoming a military contractor on its own.

Google's robotics team is reportedly being headed up by Andy Rubin, who served as the head of the company's successful Android mobile operating system until March of this year. Under Rubin's leadership, Android became the defacto platform for handset makers such as Samsung, HTC, and LG.



One potential candidate for the Boston Dynamics purchase could be Google's interest in self-driving cars. However, that project is said to be part of the company's "skunkworks" division, known as "Google X," which is reportedly a separate division from the robotics arm headed by Rubin. The Google X division is also responsible for the company's wearable Google Glass project, which is currently in testing with developers but is not yet ready for public use.

Instead, an earlier profile of Rubin and Google's robotic aspirations by the Times revealed that current plans are focused on manufacturing, not consumers. Google's work could potentially automate portions of supply chain factories to manufacture devices like phones and tablets.



Apple is also doing similar work in the supply chain, though its efforts have not come with such high-profile acquisitions. However, it was revealed in November that Apple is investing a record $10.5 billion in supply chain robots and machinery to further automate the production of devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Executives at the company reportedly consider Rubin's secretive project to be a "moonshot." But the Times also portrayed it as more realistic than Amazon's "Prime Air" drone delivery service, which it hopes will be able to offer same-day packages dropped off by automated flying machines.
post #2 of 53

THEY BOUGHT BOSTON DYNAMICS?!

 

Everything good in this world is destroyed.

post #3 of 53
It's starting. Google is Skynet!!!!!

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #4 of 53
Rise of the Weyland Corp.
post #5 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

It's starting. Google is Skynet!!!!!

 

All Depends... Amazon has the skies (hence google's feeling that's 'scary' technology), but I think Amazon will be called... "Sky Mall"

 

This is more Geonesis Droid Manufacturing;-)

post #6 of 53
Wonder how DARPA feels about this.
post #7 of 53
Siri (SRI) was also a DARPA-funded project wasn't it?
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #8 of 53
After watching that first video, it looks like there's something wrong with that thing; out of the blue it slows down and the engine shuts off. Whatever, just hope future iPhones won't be having this tag:

Designed in Cupertino, manufactured in Mountain View.
I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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post #9 of 53

I reckon this might be the beginning of Google home-bots - the next big thing in consumer electronics circa 5 to 10 years from now! lol

post #10 of 53
Originally Posted by 1983 View Post
Google home-bots

 

This is the reason that guns exist.

 

EDIT: Google has decided that it’s illegal for me to upload a fair use portion of I, Robot, despite hundreds of similar videos available on YouTube. It’s the scene where Will Smith comes in and shoots up the lady’s robot. “You know, somehow, ‘I told you so’ just doesn’t quite say it.”

 


Edited by Tallest Skil - 12/16/13 at 10:31am
post #11 of 53
Android+robot=fragbot.
Them clowns at Google are having a field day justifying that $1000 a share stock.
post #12 of 53

Surely this purchase is intended to mesh with the driverless car project.  Or maybe they are envisioning a factory without humans.  Or as others have mentioned a home-bot.

post #13 of 53
Meet your next pizza delivery boy.
post #14 of 53

Google is getting desperate for new revenue. Big Dog will hunt you down on their floating demonstration barge if you don't buy a Google Glass.

post #15 of 53
Google has no experience with or ability to pull off high quality manufacturing. Despite Motorola and other forays such us Nexus and dongles.

I am very skeptical that this will pan out for them. May just end up destroying a very exciting, innovative company.
post #16 of 53

1)  Google Delivery bots - to deliver packages and and services.

2)  Irresistible hooliganism - to pick off the bots using traps and weaponry. And to hack them to do their own mischief.

3)  Cop Bots - to protect worker bots.

4) Cop bots MkII - to Protect and Serve

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 75

post #17 of 53

Grrr this is annoying. I loved Boston Dynamics. Plus I really want to see Apple in this space.

post #18 of 53

One of their more potentially dollar-intensive advertisement delivery vectors. 

 

Nothing beats the Motorola white elephant, though. 

post #19 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post
 

One of their more potentially dollar-intensive advertisement delivery vectors. 

 

Nothing beats the Motorola white elephant, though. 

Motorola stayed the same for a while after the Google acquisition. It wasn't until fairly recently that they've started hitting the right notes such as ditching the Motoblur android skin, pushing out OS updates in a timely fashion, and appealing to the enthusiasts by honoring the warranty of the dev edition Moto X even after they unlock the bootloader.

post #20 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

One of their more potentially dollar-intensive advertisement delivery vectors. 

Nothing beats the Motorola white elephant, though. 

-For remote viewing and interaction/work at a distance
-Medical assistance
-Replacement of low-skill labor force
-Delivery services
-In-store assistance

I'm sure everyone can think of dozens of practical applications for robots ten or twenty times more advanced than the current best examples.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #21 of 53
Google remained quiet until Amazon made its drone announcement. From that moment, Google HAD to get itself in the robotic talk stream. Boston Dynamics provides Google an immediate presence in the robotics field. If you remember, manufacturing was the initial Google robotics talking points. Amazon's aerial drones are much more sexier than manufacturing robots to a company like Google. It will be interesting to see how long it takes tech experts to start writing how Apple is falling behind in the robotics arena even though Apple has already made investments in robotics in China and USA.
post #22 of 53
So... What are the other 7 robotics companies that Google bought in the last six months?
post #23 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1983 View Post

I reckon this might be the beginning of Google home-bots - the next big thing in consumer electronics circa 5 to 10 years from now! lol
Yeah, they'll watch every damn thing you do and constantly suggest that you purchase this that and the other thing, ostensibly to make your life easier.
post #24 of 53

If Andy Rubin can make a viable business out of this and other robotics-related Google acquisitions, then color me impressed. Something just tells me he's in over his head and that this might be some sort of vanity project.

For your sake, I hope you're right.
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For your sake, I hope you're right.
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post #25 of 53

I see Eric Schmidt cruising the campus, screaming "Marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing! Hee-yaa!!!"

 

And Larry Page saying

post #26 of 53

1. Go back in time to April 1954.

2. Kill Abdul Fattah Jandali.

3. Profit.

post #27 of 53

I expect we'll soon hear the clickity-click of little spiders come to scan our retinas.  Thanks Evil-google for bringing yet another aspect of Minority Report to our lives.

post #28 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

THEY BOUGHT BOSTON DYNAMICS?!

 

Everything good in this world is destroyed.

 

"Do no evil" is what comes to mind, obviously...NOT.

iMac Intel 27" Core i7 3.4, 16GB RAM, 120GB SSD + 1TB HD + 4TB RAID 1+0, Nuforce Icon HDP, OS X 10.10.1; iPad Air 64GB; iPhone 5 32GB; iPod Classic; iPod Nano 4G; Apple TV 2.

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iMac Intel 27" Core i7 3.4, 16GB RAM, 120GB SSD + 1TB HD + 4TB RAID 1+0, Nuforce Icon HDP, OS X 10.10.1; iPad Air 64GB; iPhone 5 32GB; iPod Classic; iPod Nano 4G; Apple TV 2.

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post #29 of 53
Any mention anywhere of Google registering the name 'Cylon' for anything ....?
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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post #30 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post

Motorola stayed the same for a while after the Google acquisition. It wasn't until fairly recently that they've started hitting the right notes such as ditching the Motoblur android skin, pushing out OS updates in a timely fashion, and appealing to the enthusiasts by honoring the warranty of the dev edition Moto X even after they unlock the bootloader.

The bootloader comes factory unlocked.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #31 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ed17331 View Post

So... What are the other 7 robotics companies that Google bought in the last six months?

So... I can only find the names of two other robot companies they bought...
>>
His other acquisitions include Bot & Dolly, a design studio that makes an automated camera system used in movies such as Gravity, and Schaft, a spin-off from the University of Tokyo whose bipedal robots boast much stronger "muscles" than other bots.
<<

Can anybody name the others?
post #32 of 53
Maybe they will hand deliver advertising flyers to your door.
post #33 of 53
I found the list... (IEEE Spectrum robotics blog)...

>>
Mr. Rubin has secretly acquired an array of robotics and artificial intelligence start-up companies in the United States and Japan.

Among the companies are Schaft, a small team of Japanese roboticists who recently left Tokyo University to develop a humanoid robot, and Industrial Perception, a start-up here that has developed computer vision systems and robot arms for loading and unloading trucks. Also acquired were Meka and Redwood Robotics, makers of humanoid robots and robot arms in San Francisco, and Bot & Dolly, a maker of robotic camera systems that were recently used to create special effects in the movie “Gravity.” A related firm, Autofuss, which focuses on advertising and design, and Holomni, a small design firm that makes high-tech wheels, were acquired as well.

The seven companies are capable of creating technologies needed to build a mobile, dexterous robot. Mr. Rubin said he was pursuing additional acquisitions.

Some brief highlights:

Schaft is one of the Track A teams participating in the DARPA Robotics Challenge with their own custom robot based on the HRP-2.
Industrial Perception spun out of Willow Garage back in March of 2012; read our Startup Spotlight post on them here.
Meka Robotics builds research robots with series elastic actuators in them; they're probably best known for the M1 humanoid (pictured above in front of the Google logo) and Dreamer, which you can read about here.
Redwood Robotics is (was) a collaboration between Willow Garage, SRI, and Meka that was supposedly designing a very low cost robotic arm. We've been asking around and haven't heard much for the last year or so, maybe now we know why.
And of course, there's Bot & Dolly, which uses robot arms for precise and repeatable camera control, making things way more awesome than "precise and repeatable camera control" probably makes you think of.
<<
post #34 of 53

Happy that I don't have a 1000$ share of this company because I don't understand where they heading. 

post #35 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


The bootloader comes factory unlocked.

I thought one had to call Motorola to get an unlock code or something.

post #36 of 53
Wall Street and the Android Geeks eating it up, meanwhile Motorola going down.
post #37 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ealvarez View Post
 

Happy that I don't have a 1000$ share of this company because I don't understand where they heading. 

I don't own any GOOG either and I'm not 100% sure they know where they're going with this either. All I know is they have the money now to allow them to spend millions (or billions) on R&D that may not have a payoff.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #38 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post
 

Surely this purchase is intended to mesh with the driverless car project.  Or maybe they are envisioning a factory without humans.  Or as others have mentioned a home-bot.

I think the owners of Google just like cool stuff!

 

But honestly, any company with advanced tech like Google and Apple with extra cash to spare would be crazy not to get into the field of personalized robotics -- as it's the next step from these computing devices.

 

AS the population ages, the number one product is going to be some kind of personal care robot. And YES, robotics + driverless car is most of the tech you need for that.

 

Nothing may show of this for 5 or more years, but they are probably forward looking to start making patents around recognition of objects and terrain.

post #39 of 53
I wonder how many calculations per second it has to do to run like that.
post #40 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Executives at the company reportedly consider Rubin's secretive project to be a "moonshot." But the Times also portrayed it as more realistic than Amazon's "Prime Air" drone delivery service, which it hopes will be able to offer same-day packages dropped off by automated flying machines.

The following article mentions that Brin invested in Space Adventures among other things:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/05/google-sergey-brin-synthetic-beef-hamburger

Advanced robotics would be good to have on a Space Adventure but definitely for automated meat production. When you see the stats in that article, it's clear they need to figure out a way to manufacture meat more efficiently.

While replacing smartphones running Android with actual androids would appeal to some people, sustainable food production is a very important issue.

I like the diversity of the projects Google is willing to undertake. Apple's approach of having a few products to fit on a table maintains their focus and quality but other companies with the financial resources required to tackle global issues like food and transport aren't stepping up to the plate to solve the issues.

Think of a world where all food is produced by machines, all transport is done by automated machines, all homes are built by machines and every home is powered by close to 100% renewable energy. This would surely allow every human being to live a comfortable lifestyle. It would lower the cost of living to near zero, which is where we should be. Every person deserves the right to live a comfortable lifestyle without struggling for it.

Some might argue that by taking away life's hardships, it would make people lazy and advances would slow down but the advances are made to achieve this state anyway and I think it would give people the opportunity to do work that makes them content.

There's a lot of risk in new large-scale ventures. If they aim too high and fail, the costs can destroy big companies. The alternative though is not to try at all and that's far worse. They'd just pile up a huge amount of cash that is of no benefit to anyone.
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