Google’s (now Alphabet’s) semi-secret research and development facility Google X, established in 2010, and since October 2015 run as a subsidiary of Alphabet, has added a new resident from the realm of autonomy: the Google Robotics Division.
The Robotics Division, you’ll recall, consists of those eight very cool and advanced robot companies that Google swooped in on and bought in back December of 2013.
Known internally as Replicant — yes, a Blade Runner reference for making a new Roy Batty — and then helmed by Andy Rubin. Remember Andy? Glasses, Android hero, always smiling, jumped to Redpoint Ventures, $48M richer, now helming hardware-focused newbie, Playground? Yes, that Andy.
Andy’s long gone, but his robot acquisitions remain: Schaft Inc. Meka Robtics, Redwood Robotics, Bot & Dolly, Autofuss, Industrial Perception (IPI), Boston Dynamics, and Holomni. Ring a bell?
See related: Inside Google’s Latest Series of Acquisitions
All of that robotics IP, talent, and rapidly aging machinery is now part of the experimental labs at Google X under the watchful eye of Google’s co-founder and president of Alphabet, Sergey Brin, together with scientist and entrepreneur, Astro Teller (nee Eric).
He is known as Google X’s “Captain of Moonshots” (think Google Glass, now a Tony Fadell project, and self-driving car projects). “When we say ‘moonshots,’ what we mean is that we’re shooting for things that are 10 times better,” explained Teller.
Now what? He’ll make those drifting robot projects 10 times better?
Seems the decision to encamp the aimless robotics group with Google X is ?designed to direct them toward addressing tangible problems,? said a Google X spokesperson.
Tangible, as in real things? What have they been doing since 2013, intangibles?
No further details were offered.
No further details was also the reply back in 2013 when the eight were first acquired; and we still have no clue as to how much was paid for those companies.
Hopefully all of the robotics engineers have been vigorously plying their craft ever since acquisition, because, if not, their tech has probably already been lapped, maybe even a few times, by a ton of young, Silicon Valley studs.
Brin and Teller are well aware of the exponential pace of robotics today and wouldn?t let robotics stagnate. Then again, there are a lot of tasty distractions in talent-poaching Silicon Valley where disenchanted roboticists can slip into and apply their talent.
The bivouac at Google X might give the robotics group a boost in leadership and focus that it has needed since Rubin left. But it also appears to be an admission that the previous plan on creating consumer robot technology by 2020 has been abandoned.
Yahoo Autos reports that the autonomous vehicle project at Google X and Ford will announce (at CES 2016) a joint venture to produce self-driving cars.
Well, that?s tangible enough. Teller?s definitely been busy. Can he now pull the same thing off for robots, sooner than later?