Andy Rubin, one of the brains behind Android has a new project to occupy his time. Moving from Android for smart phones to Androids for us, real robotic androids. Having resigned from his post heading Android OS development Andy is now heading up Google’s push to make robots a reality.
Google’s plans were revealed during a recent interview with the New York Times, plans that should see robots move from the labs of the world to factories everywhere.
This is no plan to take over Christmas with cute toy robots, the might G is going industrial, planning to turn manufacturing and logistics on its head. Is Google tired of waiting for robotics to happen or have they spotted an opportunity?
Google’s robotic plans have flown under the radar for the last 7 months, the project beginning as soon as Andy had resigned from the Android OS team in March. In fact the project would still be a Google secret if not for Andy’s interview with the NY Times.
Hitting the ground running Google’s robot project has already purchased half a dozen leading edge robotics companies. Companies specializing in vision, path finding, arm and manipulator accuracy and control along with omni directional wheels. Google also has plenty of its own technology it can draw on for the project; speech recognition image analysis, maps and AI algorithms to name but a few.
Andy has described the project a moonshot, a large and extremely difficult to achieve project. Google’s driverless car project is also described as a moonshot project. If anything the use of such a term reinforces how serious Google is taking this project, another way of describing it is as a game changer.
To this end Google is putting serious money into the project with hopes of developing robots that could assemble electronics, sort and load products to ship or even deliver products by hand, robot hand. According to Andy ‘the manufacturing and logistics industries are not being served properly by today’s robotics technology.’
While the project may be considered in start-up mode Google is already working hard to assemble the people and resource required. Sharp eyed reporters have noted advertisements for hardware and software specialists are appearing in various trade rags.
Larry Page wrote on Google + ‘I am very excited about Any Rubin’s next project. His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets. It is still very early days for this, but I can’t wait to see the progress.’
Google may have learned a lesson or two from Apple who were once masters at identifying technology that is ripe for large scale adoption. Learning to see when a technology is ready for prime time and then bringing it together as a consumer friendly product is no easy task and now seems to be the very modern job of these mega corporations.
Robotics are going to be one of the greatest revolutions of modern times, with so many technical and moral issues to conquer can Google move this new technology from promising lab experiment to real products? And more importantly what will Google’s Robot be called? AndyBot!
Reference: New York Times