robots Stories November 15, 2018

Back in 2013, Google went on a robotics shopping spree with seven acquisitions that included Boston Dynamics and a company called Schaft. That effort has so far yet to materialize, with robotics currently under Alphabet’s X. After failing to find a buyer, Alphabet is shutting down the company focused on bipedal robots.

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robots Stories October 12, 2017

After Android but before leaving Google, Andy Rubin led the company’s robotics efforts and acquired several startups, including Boston Dynamics. As part of the Alphabet re-org in late 2015, a majority of the robots division was absorbed into X. That team has remained quiet until today.

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robots Stories June 22, 2016

google-robot

Any SF fan will be familiar with Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics, designed to ensure that robots were safe to be around. Scientists at Google, OpenAI, Stanford and Berkeley have just published a paper proposing the real-life equivalent for AI systems.

In a blog post summarising the proposal, Google Research’s Chris Olah says that while the team believes that AI will greatly benefit humanity, the risks do also need to be considered …

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robots Stories April 8, 2016

schaft

Update: Google has said that the robot is designed to be a ‘low-cost, low-power, compact device.’

While Alphabet is rumored to sell Boston Dynamics due to a lack of “marketable products”, it still owns quite a few robot companies. This morning one of them called SCHAFT showcased a bipedal robot that is capable of climbing stairs, balancing, and walking on difficult terrain.

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robots Stories March 17, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 9.19.36 PM

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.

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robots Stories March 10, 2016

robot

As achievements go, learning how to pick up objects doesn’t sound quite as impressive as twice beating the world Go champion – it is, after all, something the average toddler can do. But it’s the fact that the robots themselves figured out the best way to do it using neural networks that makes this notable.

A recent Google report spotted by TNW explains how the company let robot arms pick up a variety of different objects, using neural networks to learn by trial-and-error the best way to handle each. Some 800,000 goes later, the robots seemed to have it figured out pretty well …

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robots Stories February 23, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 9.19.36 PM

Google’s Boston Dynamics company, the people behind previous terrifying yet amazing robot videos, has today shared a glimpse at what it is calling the “next generation” of its Atlas robot. The new generation of Atlas is designed to operate both indoors and outdoors, the company says, and weighs a solid 180 pounds.

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robots Stories July 14, 2014

Sqish-Bot

A team of eggheads at MIT are working with Boston Dynamics to develop next-generation shapeshifting robots built from simple materials like wax and foam. Not quite like Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat, these pliable contraptions possess the ability to squish into smalls spaces, while maintaining their durability. So don’t worry about these machines stealing your identity just yet. To change shape, these low-cost robots use embedded wiring to heat and contort specific parts of their waxy builds.

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robots Stories February 11, 2014

Future iPhones could be built by Google robots on Foxconn production lines

In what would be a rather amusing twist, future iPhones could be built by Google robots as Google’s robotics division assists Foxconn to “speed up robot deployment” at its factories.

The WSJ reports that Foxconn was looking for assistance in automating its production lines, while Google is aiming to introduce robots to manufacturing processes that have so far been largely manual – electronics assembly being a key example. It takes around 600 people to make each iPhone.

Foxconn has been working with former Android executive Andy Rubin since last year to carry out the U.S. company’s vision for robotics.

To speed up robot deployment at its own factories, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou met with Rubin in Taipei recently and they discussed new robotic technologies, they said.

At the meeting, Gou expressed excitement over new automation technologies demonstrated by Rubin, they said. Rubin also asked Gou to help integrate a technology company that Google is acquiring as Foxconn’s strength lies in mechanical engineering.

Google has acquired eight robotics companies over the course of the past year, and is believed to have ambitions to create a robotic operating system that would be to manufacturing what Android is to smartphones. Foxconn is looking to reduce operating costs and boost efficiency.

“Foxconn needs Google’s help to step up automation at its factories as the company has the lowest sales per employee among the contract makers, given its large workforce,” said Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Securities.

robots Stories January 26, 2014

terminator

First they created self-driving (and maybe flying) cars. Then they created a new robotics division and put Android’s Andy Rubin in charge. And who could forget that they recently bought Boston Dynamics, the firm responsible for several DARPA-funded robotics projects?

Now, Re/code reports that Google is planning to purchase DeepMind, a London-based AI company that specializes in games and e-commerce algorithms. While Google could possibly put the company’s work on e-commerce to good use, Re/code indicates that Google is likely acquiring the firm for its talent, not so much for its technology. The site pegs the purchase price at round $400 million, but The Information says the number is actually closer to $500 million.

Just what does Google plan to do with all of these purchases? Some have previously speculated that the company is working on an intelligent delivery system to rival Amazon’s futuristic delivery drones. Andy Rubin has said that he has an interest in revolutionizing industries that have not yet been impacted by the precision of robotics technology, such as the assembly of electronics.

Or maybe they just want an army of terminators. But hey, who wouldn’t?

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