Google buys robotics design company Boston Dynamics

By on December 16, 2013, 9:16 AM
google, darpa, robot, andy rubin, robotics, boston dynamics

Google on Friday announced that they've acquired the robotic engineering company Boston Dynamics. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company creates "machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.", The New York Times reported. It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the past six months.

Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by former MIT professor Marc Raibert. The company has designed mobile research robots for Pentagon clients and has also worked with the likes of Sony and CIA. It is one of the most popular and advanced robotics company in the world today.

Google executives are tight lipped on the financial details of the deal as well as the motive behind the acquisition. Although the search giant said that all existing contracts of the robotics company will be honored, it has no plans of becoming a government contractor on its own. Boston Dynamics signed earlier this year a 10.8 million contract with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

We already reported that Andy Rubin, the man behind world’s most widely used smartphone OS -- Android, is leading the robotic team at Google. "I am excited about Andy Rubin's next project", said Larry Page in a Google+ post. Rubin stepped down as the head of Android in March.

Some of Boston Dynamics' popular products include BigDog, a rough-terrain robot that can handle ice and snow, a fast-legged robot Cheetah that can run at around 29 mph and PETMAN, a robot designed for testing chemical protection clothing. 

Take a look at the robot maker's YouTube page to know more about its products.




User Comments: 10

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EClyde EClyde said:

Great. That ugly thing can patrol the ugly windfarms

2 people like this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

Given Google's history and BD's product, I can only conclude that Google is planning to amass an army of heavily armed killer robots that use their interface with Google's database to seek and destroy anyone who challenges Al Gore. It's no coincidence that both terminators and certain Google products which will remain nameless are synonymous with chrome.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Irrespective of what Google paid to acquire the company, they probably paid for it from petty cash.

kuroiei kuroiei said:

Well, I'm against it. It was a military project to begin with and it turned to Google. I'd be fine with Microsoft buying it as they probably wouldn't work at all without constant patching or something, but giving Google such toys certainly doesn't sound too safe. Either world dominance by combining their data and robotics or they'll run this poor mule to the ground like YouTube.

Guest said:

But why would google want this is google an army now ? what reason would be behind them getting this

insect said:

Why all the doom and gloom? Who cares if Google makes robots... if they don't, someone else will.

I suspect they just want to get a jump on competition by buying established companies and using the bought companies tech and patents to to catch up to those already ahead (like Honda). In the end, we this just means robot servants and androids (like Data from Star Trek... not silly phones) faster and sooner than would have happened without the power that is Google.

If you're really that afraid of robots becoming your overlords then I suggest you stop watching sci-fi horror movies start learning to about robotics now so you can evade/shut them down if that time comes.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Why all the doom and gloom? Who cares if Google makes robots... if they don't, someone else will.

I suspect they just want to get a jump on competition by buying established companies and using the bought companies tech and patents to to catch up to those already ahead (like Honda). In the end, we this just means robot servants and androids (like Data from Star Trek... not silly phones) faster and sooner than would have happened without the power that is Google.

If you're really that afraid of robots becoming your overlords then I suggest you stop watching sci-fi horror movies start learning to about robotics now so you can evade/shut them down if that time comes.

Most of the doom and gloom here is all in good fun.

However, average person should indeed be fearful of these robotics programs. In fact, they should be terrified. Robot servants and androids mean a substantial decrease in labor demand for a wide range of basic jobs. Economically, this means that to compete with Data-like androids, human laborers will have to become extremely competitive (see: demand lower wages, fewer benefits) or be washed out of the market completely. Simply, a laborer who performs with machine consistency and precision, doesn't require medical, doesn't demand a wage, won't strike against or sue an employer, or won't decided to leave a company for a better opportunity, is a far more effective tool for production than any human (who does all of those things, save for the first) could ever hope to be. If you think cheap international labor is a bane, just wait until the even cheaper Robotic Army of Productivity takes the market by storm in the future.

That said, it's probably a great idea to learn about robotics. In an automated future, the only people who will be making decent money are the people who can service the machines.

JC713 JC713 said:

Doesnt that company have large ties with DARPA?

yorro said:

Has anyone seen humanoid by Boston Dynamics?

I guess all those sci-fi movies got everyone feel uneasy, just the idea of replacing everyone's jobs can induce fear.

Guest said:

Shouldn't be hard for these tax dodgers to buy that.

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