Google investing heavily in advanced robotics, buys renowned military contractor

in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.


  • Reply 1 of 53



    Everything good in this world is destroyed.

  • Reply 2 of 53
    It's starting. Google is Skynet!!!!!
  • Reply 3 of 53
    Rise of the Weyland Corp.
  • Reply 4 of 53
    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;-)

  • Reply 5 of 53
    Wonder how DARPA feels about this.
  • Reply 6 of 53
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,389member
    Siri (SRI) was also a DARPA-funded project wasn't it?
  • Reply 7 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.
  • Reply 8 of 53
    19831983 Posts: 1,225member

    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

  • Reply 9 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.”


  • Reply 10 of 53
    Them clowns at Google are having a field day justifying that $1000 a share stock.
  • Reply 11 of 53
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,903member

    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.

  • Reply 12 of 53
    tjwaltjwal Posts: 404member
    Meet your next pizza delivery boy.
  • Reply 13 of 53
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,213member

    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.

  • Reply 14 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.
  • Reply 15 of 53
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,729member

    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

  • Reply 16 of 53
  • Reply 17 of 53

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

  • Reply 18 of 53

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


    Nothing beats the Motorola white elephant, though. 

  • Reply 19 of 53
    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.

  • Reply 20 of 53
    quadra 610 wrote: »
    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.
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