Google eyes world of robotics

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iol scitech dec 5 google Andy Rubin

AFP

The report said that Google had placed Andy Rubin in charge of the project.

San Francisco - Google has bought seven robotics companies in recent months as part of a strategy to develop its own robots that can be used for warehouse, manufacturing and delivery work, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The report said that Google had placed Andy Rubin in charge of the project. Rubin is the highly regarded executive who led the development of Android into the world's most widely used smartphone software.

Google has long been committed to investing resources in ambitious technology projects that are not directly related to its core search software.

Recent examples include the development of driverless cars and high altitude balloons to provide broadband access to remote areas. The company usually develops new technologies in its Project X experimental unit.

But in a sign of how advanced Google's robot project is, Rubin's unit functions as an independent division in the company, the New York Times reported.

The report appeared just days after web retail giant Amazon.com detailed its plans to develop a fleet of autonomous drones that would be capable of delivering packages weighing up to 2.5 kilograms to customer homes with 16 kilometres of its distribution centres.

According to the report, the robotics companies that Google has bought include Japanese robotics company Schaft, Redwood Robotics, 3D vision company Industrial Perception, and Bot & Dolly (which built the robots that helped film Gravity).

Google has also acquired Meka Robotics, advertising and design firm Autofuss, and advanced wheel design firm Holomni. Rubin told the paper that the project was being developed with a 10-year vision of bringing the project to fruition.

He compared its success to that of Google's self-driving cars. “The automated car project was science fiction when it started. Now it is coming within reach,” said Rubin”I feel with robotics it's a green field.

“We're building hardware, we're building software. We're building systems, so one team will be able to understand the whole stack.” - Sapa-dpa

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