Another F for Alphabet: U.S. Marines reject Google's other android as too loud to use

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2016
Two years ago, Google made headlines when it acquired military robot maker Boston Dynamics. However, after receiving $42 million from the government to develop autonomous machine mules, the robotics group has failed to deliver anything the Marines can use and the Pentagon has ended further funding.


Marines testing the capabilities of the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) in 2013. Source: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michael Walters, via Military.com


Not the droids they were looking for



A report by Hope Hodge Seck for Military.com noted that the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency paid Boston Dynamics $32 million under a contract to develop the "Legged Squad Support System" (LS3) for the U.S. Marines Corps.

The four-legged LS3 robot was intended to help support troops by autonomously carrying around 400 pounds of equipment over rugged terrain, while responding to verbal commands. However, the design of the LS3 was centered around a gas-powered engine, making it too loud to use in the field as intended.


Boston Dynamics' gas powered robots are loud


Military spokesman Kyle Olson stated, "As Marines were using it, there was the challenge of seeing the potential possibility because of the limitations of the robot itself. They took it as it was: a loud robot that's going to give away their position."

Boston Dynamics received another $10 million to develop smaller, quieter electric version named Spot, but it could only carry about 40 pounds, which wasn't enough to be useful. Additionally, the smaller version lacked the autonomy of the original LS3, requiring direct controller piloting.

Both projects are now "in storage, with no future experiments or upgrades planned," the site reports. Olson stated, "We tend to play with things that are fanciful and strange. Learning from it was a big part, and we're still learning."

LS3 is the latest disappointment among Alphabet's "other bets" alongside its core ad profits supporting Google search. Previously, Google had attempted to launch Glass as a novel wearable device and partner products such as Nexus 7, but these too failed to do much apart from generating optimistic headlines, due to their poorly considered design, a perception among the public as being intrusive spyware, unfinished software bugs and excessive hardware failures.

Alongside Boston Dynamics, Google has also invested billions in buying up existing consumer hardware businesses, notably Nest--a company attempting to sell expensive thermostats and smoke detectors that are essentially defective by design--as well as Motorola Mobility, a very expensive mistake that only ever lost hundreds of millions of dollars within the company every quarter before it sold it off for scrap to Chinese PC maker Lenovo.


An Alphabet of Fs and Ds


Andy's Android 2.0



In early 2013, as Google's emerging hardware strategy that was centered around Motorola Mobility began to implode, Andy Rubin was removed as head of Google's Android mobile operating system and replaced by Sundar Pichai, who had been running Google's Chrome initiatives (and who later became the company's chief executive).

Pichai then dismantled a series of failed Android hardware initiatives Rubin's team had been working on (including a second shot at launching another Android-powered Google TV box), and shifted Google toward Chrome-based products including the much ballyhooed Chromecast TV dongle.

Google's executives portrayed Rubin's demotion as a "new chapter" for him in a new role at the company within the experimental "Google X" group. By the end of 2013, Google began advertising its moonshot robotics acquisitions, including Boston Dynamics, part of the robotics work Rubin was tinkering with.


Andy Rubin among robots


However, by the end of 2014 Rubin left Google to launch a tech startup incubator. Meanwhile, Pichai failed to gain any real traction for Chrome devices among consumers or in the enterprise, and subsequently began shifting the company back to a unified strategy that hoped to leverage the already broad adoption of Google's openly licensed Android software.

This year, Google's Chrome team developed a tablet that shortly before launch was switched to run the smartphone-centric Android OS instead, resulting in an essentially unusable device with unfinished and incomplete features that shipped under Google's Pixel brand, historically used to launch Chrome hardware.

Unable to create a viable market for Chrome, Google has been forced to salvage what's left of it and Android, while also facing its still-lumbering lawsuit with Oracle. Android was found in court to have infringed upon Java APIs, essentially refusing to license Java commercially while also refusing to license it in accord with the GPL copyleft terms that would have required Google to share its contributions back to the open source Java community.

Instead, Google decided to just use Oracle's Java software on its own terms, and has been doing this in Android since it was first launched. That's changing now. Google announced that its next version of Android will replace its infringing implementation of Java APIs in Android with OpenJDK.

That's a significant distraction from real innovation that the next "Android N" will incur, even as Apple continues to pick up speed in developing iOS and its sibling watchOS, tvOS and OS X platforms, none of which are built around infringing other vendor's code nor unable to sell new hardware or find willing buyers.Apple's work on robots has resulted in more efficient production of the products it makes that return revenues and profits, rather than just spending the Pentagon's money on experiments until it's all gone

Virtually all of Google's profits still come from search (supported by paid placement advertising), despite a decade of efforts to expand into new markets with Android and then Chrome, then robotics and other "moonshot" efforts, including Glass and a failed retail effort to designed to skirt local development laws and literally market the device off the backside of floating barges.

Despite its inability to meaningfully expand into new markets successfully, investors still seem to think that Google has tremendous potential.

In contrast, since 2013 Apple has turned its own Apple TV business into a billion dollar industry and introduced its new Apple Watch, creating a $7 billion new business within the wearables product category that Google has only stumbled in.

Apple is like an Alphabet that can actually develop new products and businesses



Apple actually sells tablets, rather than just experimenting with them, and Apple's work on robots has resulted in more efficient production of the products it makes that return revenues and profits, rather than just spending the Pentagon's money on experiments until it's all gone.

Apple has also stolen away Google's mapping business on iOS, taken web search traffic away from Google with Siri and its own local deep-search within apps, and enabled iOS developers to block cookies, user tracking and ad banners within Safari, further reducing Google's ability to make money from iOS.

Apple has also established a massive new demand for its products in China since 2013, a market Google hasn't materially participated in for years; Google's search, Maps and other online services are actively blocked by the government.

This year, Alphabet will increasingly face pressure to deliver some tangible success, because its beta bet with Google is losing its monopoly over information and eyeballs as web pages continue to be replaced with apps and social network feeds. And after years of mocking and plotting against its once close partner in both iOS and WebKit, Google can't rely upon Apple to deliver it another lucrative A+ platform to monetize with ads.
icoco3leeeh2lostkiwi
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    Just to be "that person," ... those are robots, not androids.  

    Just because Google chose the wrong name for their OS and decided to screw up the long history of the definition of these words for everyone, doesn't mean we have to acquiesce.  A robot is a robot and and android is an android.  These are ALL robots (except where they are actually just automata pretending to be robots).  

    Androids are non-mechanical simulacra of animal beings.  A robot is a mechanical simulation an animal being, (or of some portion of an animal being). 
    iqatedomacky the mackyargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 70
    vvswarupvvswarup Posts: 330member
    Here's how the media will view it. Google made a major investment in advancing robotics technology and continues to make some major investment while Apple is using existing robots to make a thinner iPhone. Google is investing in the next big thing while Apple is simply using yesterday's technology to make an obsolete product. 


    brakkencapasicumdjkfisherbobrooredgeminipalostkiwiargonautDan Andersen
  • Reply 3 of 70
    koopkoop Posts: 337member
    Still waiting for the Google sex bot that collects my dna information.
    brakkenredgeminipaargonautDan Andersen
  • Reply 4 of 70

    vvswarup said:
    Here's how the media will view it. Google made a major investment in advancing robotics technology and continues to make some major investment while Apple is using existing robots to make a thinner iPhone. Google is investing in the next big thing while Apple is simply using yesterday's technology to make an obsolete product. 


    How do you know that for sure? Some of the manufacturing techniques that Apple has to employ (via its subcontractors) are pretty neat and state of the art.
    As my Control Systems Prof used to say, there is far more to robotics than the software and that was in the 1970's.
    I know only too well that if the physical bits of the system are not up to it then not matter how good the software is, the thing just won't work. I can buy a pretty decent autopilot off the shelf. But if the servos and actuators are not up to scratch then the thing won't fly very well at all.
  • Reply 5 of 70
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,018member
    Mock non-Apple failure, mock non-Apple attempts at innovation, recycle Android bashing.  Repeat.
    lord amhranfreshmakerderrickdoingitsingularityAlpha Droidbobrooredgeminipakpluckcnocbuiderekmorr
  • Reply 6 of 70
    clexmanclexman Posts: 150member
    crowley said:
    Mock non-Apple failure, mock non-Apple attempts at innovation, recycle Android bashing.  Repeat.
    Exactly. What does any of this have to do with Apple news and rumors?
    lord amhransingularitycnocbuiderekmorr
  • Reply 7 of 70
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    iOS 10 should come with built in ad blocking with a whitelist. Have all ads activated except Giggle's by default.

    Siri needs an update and let's hope she's the same(as useful) across all devices.
    applepieguybrucemcredgeminipaargonaut
  • Reply 8 of 70
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    clexman said:
    crowley said:
    Mock non-Apple failure, mock non-Apple attempts at innovation, recycle Android bashing.  Repeat.
    Exactly. What does any of this have to do with Apple news and rumors?
    Probably to kick dirt in the face of the company who betrayed Apple. Makes me happy :)

    Better than those non-Apple device reviews.
    edited January 2016 brakkenapplepieguymechanicbrucemccapasicumredgeminipalostkiwiargonautDan Andersen
  • Reply 9 of 70
    koopkoop Posts: 337member
    clexman said:
    crowley said:
    Mock non-Apple failure, mock non-Apple attempts at innovation, recycle Android bashing.  Repeat.
    Exactly. What does any of this have to do with Apple news and rumors?

    Because there's not enough Apple news and rumors for a site like this to exist. Apple clamps tight all most information, rumors are largely goofy and untrue, and most news wont spill until 60 days are so closer to WWDC. Some Microsoft blogs do the same thing. They start stirring the pot with competitor bashing and worthless accusations of media bias. Fills in content gaps, jumps clicks and views. 

    Show me a website that keeps focus on what it's tagline is and i'll show you a dead website. Everybody needs to eat. I've decided to not let it bother me. DED knows what he's doing.

    fastasleepanantksundaramfraclostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 10 of 70
    Just to be "that person," ... those are robots, not androids.  

    Just because Google chose the wrong name for their OS and decided to screw up the long history of the definition of these words for everyone, doesn't mean we have to acquiesce.  A robot is a robot and and android is an android.  These are ALL robots (except where they are actually just automata pretending to be robots).  

    Androids are non-mechanical simulacra of animal beings.  A robot is a mechanical simulation an animal being, (or of some portion of an animal being). 
    You are right that andro- denotes "man," and android specifically denotes a robot with a human-like appearance (as opposed to robots, many of which don't attempt muscle-like movements, walk on legs, have a head, etc.)

    However, Boston Dynamics has several robot designs that all have human-like or otherwise being-inspired appearance or functionality. I also intended to reference Andy "android" Rubin, who got Google into Android, Motorola and then robotics, before his peace-out left the company with a series of albatrosses wrapped around its neck.
    icoco3applepieguybrakkenanantksundaramargonautjony0
  • Reply 11 of 70
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,488member
    hey, while we're at it, Microsoft HoloLens doesn't use holography either. Media and the general public are clueless as to what holography is and have let Microsoft try to redefine it. Actual holography is far cooler and very distant in the future as a practical reality for user interfaces.
    iqatedocapasicumlostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 12 of 70
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member

    vvswarup said:
    Here's how the media will view it. Google made a major investment in advancing robotics technology and continues to make some major investment while Apple is using existing robots to make a thinner iPhone. Google is investing in the next big thing while Apple is simply using yesterday's technology to make an obsolete product. 


    How do you know that for sure? Some of the manufacturing techniques that Apple has to employ (via its subcontractors) are pretty neat and state of the art.
    As my Control Systems Prof used to say, there is far more to robotics than the software and that was in the 1970's.
    I know only too well that if the physical bits of the system are not up to it then not matter how good the software is, the thing just won't work. I can buy a pretty decent autopilot off the shelf. But if the servos and actuators are not up to scratch then the thing won't fly very well at all.
    I think vvswarup was taking the cynical/sarcastic view... You know, robots to actually make money NOW.... Wall street can't stand that... They have to be pie in the sky future pot of gold (tm)
    radarthekatcapasicumlostkiwi
  • Reply 13 of 70
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,106member
    Just to be "that person," ... those are robots, not androids.  

    Just because Google chose the wrong name for their OS and decided to screw up the long history of the definition of these words for everyone, doesn't mean we have to acquiesce.  A robot is a robot and and android is an android.  These are ALL robots (except where they are actually just automata pretending to be robots).  

    Androids are non-mechanical simulacra of animal beings.  A robot is a mechanical simulation an animal being, (or of some portion of an animal being). 
    You are right that andro- denotes "man," and android specifically denotes a robot with a human-like appearance (as opposed to robots, many of which don't attempt muscle-like movements, walk on legs, have a head, etc.)

    However, Boston Dynamics has several robot designs that all have human-like or otherwise being-inspired appearance or functionality. I also intended to reference Andy "android" Rubin, who got Google into Android, Motorola and then robotics, before his peace-out left the company with a series of albatrosses wrapped around its neck.
    Google also rejected further Darpa funding nearly two years ago didn't they? It only honored this one because the contracts were already committed to by Boston Dynamics when Google purchased the company.  I imagine I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know tho.  Google has zero interest in creating military robots. Further, DARPA has better uses for their limited $2B+ budget than giving it to a company that doesn't need any of it. They traditionally take an interest in startups.  Giving money to Google for research would be as ridiculous as giving it to Apple or Microsoft. So of course there would be no marriage between Google and military research. 

    In any event I think it's great that that there's no longer any connection to military uses of Google-owned robotics tech. Kudos all around. It needs to stay that way. 

    EDIT: For those that weren't aware of it here's the link to Google rejecting any further DARPA funding on any new projects back in March of 2014
    http://defensetech.org/2014/03/25/google-rejects-military-funding-in-robotics/

    EDIT2: Speaking of robotics it's entirely possible that some Google developments are helping to build Apple products. Google and Hon-Hai working together on robotic manufacturing processes? 
    http://www.dailytech.com/Google+Foxconn+Working+Together+on+Robotics/article34305.htm


    edited January 2016 lord amhrantechlovercornchipsingularityfracmonstrosityderekmorrcnocbui
  • Reply 14 of 70
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 687member
    Even without checking, I knew this was DED. I love your work!
    I am stunned that anyone takes Alphabet-Google seriously at all, any more. 
    The only other company that gets such a huge free pass is MS, and they are being consumed by their own lack of taste, too.
    I wouldn't be surprised if the anti-encryption people were being financed by these two lame and disgusting companies.

    In the meantime, The Macalope wrote a fun article about Apple's foibles. I recommend it!
    applepieguycapasicumlostkiwiDan Andersen
  • Reply 15 of 70
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 687member

    Just to be "that person," ... those are robots, not androids.  

    Just because Google chose the wrong name for their OS and decided to screw up the long history of the definition of these words for everyone, doesn't mean we have to acquiesce.  A robot is a robot and and android is an android.  These are ALL robots (except where they are actually just automata pretending to be robots).  

    Androids are non-mechanical simulacra of animal beings.  A robot is a mechanical simulation an animal being, (or of some portion of an animal being). 
    On the Roughly Drafted site, DED details why it's called 'Android' - Andy Rubin created it: And(y) R(ubin)oid.
    But as Jobs once said, MS simply doesn't have any taste. I dare say this applies to Goog as well!
    applepieguycapasicumlostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 16 of 70
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 687member

    cali said:
    clexman said:
    Exactly. What does any of this have to do with Apple news and rumors?
    Probably to kick dirt in the face of the company who betrayed Apple. Makes me happy :)

    Better than those non-Apple device reviews.
    Agree. 
    And the news and rumours here indicates by logical deduction that Apple will be reinforcing its position in both hardware/software and services at Goog's expense. Sadly, search alternatives to Goog are Bing or another one I've forgotten, or develop its own. 
    Already on it, I'd say!
    Applr has already removed MS's profits by introducing free OS's and bundling iWork for free. Bringing Maps and iAds, and suing hoc and SS has certainly limited Goog's sphere of influence. I hate advertising.
    caliradarthekatcapasicumapplepieguylostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 17 of 70
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,694member
    I've been a reader and fan of AI for along time, but this article is awfully biased. Yes, I fully understand that this is a website focussed on Apple and their products, but sheesh! What a petulant, juvenile rant against everything Alphabet/Google. I'm not saying there are untrue statements, but the way they are stated is uncouth and not journalism in any sense, other than yellow.
    freshmakertechloversingularitynetmagederekmorrcnocbui
  • Reply 18 of 70
    welshdog said:
    I've been a reader and fan of AI for along time, but this article is awfully biased. Yes, I fully understand that this is a website focussed on Apple and their products, but sheesh! What a petulant, juvenile rant against everything Alphabet/Google. I'm not saying there are untrue statements, but the way they are stated is uncouth and not journalism in any sense, other than yellow.
    That's just DED's writing style.  Usually just a bunch of FUD.  Especially liked the cheap shot at Nest.  Classy
    lord amhrantechloverSpamSandwichsingularitynetmagederekmorrargonaut
  • Reply 19 of 70
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,132moderator
    cpsro said:
    hey, while we're at it, Microsoft HoloLens doesn't use holography either. Media and the general public are clueless as to what holography is and have let Microsoft try to redefine it. Actual holography is far cooler and very distant in the future as a practical reality for user interfaces.
    And also while we're at it...  Face recognition technology is called 'face recognition,' not 'facial recognition.'  We're not trying to recognize that someone just returned from a spa appointment.
    argonaut
  • Reply 20 of 70
    clexman said:
    crowley said:
    Mock non-Apple failure, mock non-Apple attempts at innovation, recycle Android bashing.  Repeat.
    Exactly. What does any of this have to do with Apple news and rumors?
    This provides Apple perspective.  Apple is extremely successful with its R&D budgets whereas many of its peers, including Alphabet, waste large amounts of R&D money.  Sure, DED's articles can be a bit shrill, but this one is chock-full of information and quite relevant to the environment that Apple competes in.  It's too easy to take Apple's smart decisions for granted, so DED is detailing some of the bad decisions Apple hasn't made.
    radarthekatcornchipapplepieguylostkiwiargonaut
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