The New York Times is reporting on Google’s plans to move into the robotics field. The tech giant has purchased seven robotics companies recently and put Andy Rubin, who once headed up the Android project, in charge of its robotics push.
Rather than focusing on building robots for consumers, Google plans to work on developing robotics for the industrial and manufacturing areas. Google is not saying much about specific plans to use robotics, but the Times article speculates that an area of interest for the company would be using robots to help automate warehouse and shipping operations in its Google Shopping program that that has begun operating in selected cities.
Rubin says that the project will take time and money to come to fruition, but he has managed to persuade Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to fund this ‘moonshot’ project — the amount of money put into the Robotics pushed is undisclosed.
Google is well known for its ambitious tech projects that are a long way removed from its search and advertising core operations, but so far they have made significant investments in such diverse areas as transportation, energy, retail, and medicine. Robotics is now added to their growing list of enterprises. Google has had some big successes in its non-core portfolio (e.g. Android), some big flops (anyone remember Knol?), and some enterprises where the jury is still out, like Google Glass. But you have to hand it to them — they have leadership with ambition and imagination who tare willing to try and extend new technological boundaries, and are willing to commit significant funding and intellectual resources to the projects they back.
Google’s experience with the self-driving car initiative will probably have given them a good foundation with automation technology that could lead to further progress with robotics. At this point I would not bet against them making significant progress in the robotics field.