Before former Android head Andy Rubin left Google, he headed up Google’s robotics efforts. In 2013, Google acquired numerous companies and added 300 robotics engineers. The crown jewel was Boston Dynamics, already known for their animal- and human-like robots. However, Bloomberg is now reporting that Alphabet is selling Boston Dynamics.
Google’s robotics efforts have long been shrouded in tension. While most of the Google hired robotics engineers formed the Replicant division, Boston Dynamics was never integrated into the group. Furthermore, Bloomberg reports that Boston Dynamics execs were reluctant to work with other robotics teams at Google.
Since Rubin left Google, the Replicant division has been unable to find a leader. Ultimately, the group was folded into Google X last December. Even so, the state of Google’s robotics projects are tenuous at best with X head Astro Teller telling employees that they would be reassigned if robotics didn’t end up helping Google’s efforts.
However, the biggest reason for the sale is due to Boston Dynamics not having a “marketable product” in the next few years. Companies under Alphabet are expected to generate real revenue and executives concluded that Boston Dynamics could not do so in a reasonable time frame. Possible buyers include Amazon and the Toyota Research Institute.
Additionally, of continued concern to Google’s public relations team, was Alphabet’s possible association with ‘scary’ human-like robots by average people and the press. They continually tried to distance X from Boston Dynamics.