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Google challenges Amazon drones with its own robots

Google has bought seven companies over the last six months to help develops its robotics business.

Andy Rubin was formally the head of Google's Android division before he began working on robotics.
Andy Rubin was formally the head of Google's Android division before he began working on robotics.
Image: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

IT’S ONLY BEEN two days since Amazon showed off its prime air drone, but if it ever sees the light of day, it could be overshadowed by another type of robot.

Google has bought seven companies over the last six months to help it build the next generation of robots. It’s expected that Google will market these robots towards manufacturing although it’s possible that they will also be used for retail.

The project is currently being headed by Andy Rubin, the person who built the company’s Android software. Rubin stepped down as head of the company’s smartphone division earlier this year to focus on the project and told the New York Times that there was a lot of potential in the field.

I feel with robotics it’s a green field… We’re building hardware, we’re building software. We’re building systems, so one team will be able to understand the whole stack.

Among the companies bought are Schaft, a small team from Japan that left Tokyo University to develop a humanoid robot, and Industrial Perception, a US based startup that has developed computer vision systems and robot arms for loading and unloading trucks.

Other companies like Bot & Dolly, a company that specialises in precise motion robotics and film-making – which was used in the film ‘Gravity’ – and Holomni, a firm that makes high-tech wheels, were also acquired during the six month period.

Currently, there is no time frame for when the first batch of robots will be released, but Rubin said that the project would need “enough runway and a 10-year vision” for it to work.

Read: Amazon will deliver packages in 30 minutes using drones >

Read: Japanese plan to turn moon into giant power plant >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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