Andy Rubin, the Google executive who created the Android OS, is leaving the company and will be replaced by research scientist James Kuffner, who's also a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. According to the Wall Street Journal, he is stepping down to launch a startup incubator for hardware companies.

Rubin co-founded Android in 2003 and a couple of years later the startup was acquired by Google. He led Android operations within the company for a period eight years, during which he transformed the OS from a startup project into the world's most popular software for smartphones.

Last year, Rubin was replaced by Sundar Pichai, another fast-rising executive, who was recently given a major promotion by the company, putting him in charge of all of Google's major consumer products including Search, Maps, Google+, as well as commerce and ads.

Rubin was shifted to lead Google's robotics division, which includes various firms acquired by the search giant, such as Boston Dynamics, one of the best-known robotics companies in the world.

He began his career as a robotics engineer at optics maker Carl Zeiss AG, following which he worked as an engineer at Apple. Prior to co-founding Android, Rubin had co-founded its predecessor Danger, a company that created the Sidekick mobile phone.

"I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next", said Google CEO Larry Page in a statement. "With Android he created something truly remarkable---with a billion plus happy users. Thank you".