So Google has probably had enough fun with robotics. It appears that the tech giant is still skeptical of practical usage and profitability of robots in near future. According to a report in Bloomberg, the parent company of Google, Alphabet is putting its robot division, Boston Dynamics for sale.
Google had acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013 in addition to many other acquisitions in the field to aid its efforts in robotic technology. However, things did not go as planned, partly due to the leadership changes and partly due to the reported clashes between engineers of Boston Dynamics and Google.
The tension inside the companies was more pronounced for a robotic initiative called Replicant. As per the BloomBerg report, Boston Dynamics executives were reluctant to work with Google’s other robot engineers in California and Tokyo. This led to unit’s failure to come up with products that could be released in the near term.
The Replicant project was merged with the advanced research group of the company Google X in December last year whereas Boston Dynamics still remains independent and sort of an outsider inside the company.
Reportedly, Astro Teller, head of Google X told the engineers in a meeting that they would be reassigned to work on the other things if robotics aren’t the practical solution to problems that Google was trying to solve.
And now executives at Alphabet also believe that there was little chance of a marketable product coming out from the division in the next few years and they could not afford to continue spending on “30-plus percent of our resources on things that take ten years.”
There is another reason for the prospective sell out mentioned in the report. A video surfaced online last month showing the latest advanced humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics which is eerily similar to the Terminator-like humanoid robot, capable of walking, running, jumping, and remain upright when pushed and kicked by humans.
While the video has generated a lot of excitement among tech community, many people are also skeptical about their capabilities to replace humans in the real world. As per the internal emails uncovered by BloomBerg, Google’s Public Relations team also expressed its discomfort in their association with such projects.
There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs.We’re not going to comment on this video because there’s really not a lot we can add, and we don’t want to answer most of the Qs it triggers.
wrote Courtney Hohne, a director of communications at Google and the spokeswoman for Google X.
Hohne reportedly further asked her colleagues to “distance X from this video” as they did not want to let the world know about the exact position of Boston Dynamics in the company.
As far as prospective buyers of Boston Dynamics are concerned, two names have emerged so far. One is the research arm of Toyota Motor Corp, Toyota Research Institute and the other is Amazon. Both companies are known to use the robots in their manufacturing and warehouse operations respectively.