Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed research robots for the Pentagon, has been acquired by Google. It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year.
Boston Dynamics and its range of robots bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the name behind the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.
As per the New York Times
“This deal is the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.”
Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, also known as the father of walking robots in the United States. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is one of the most renowned clients of Boston Dynamics. Boston Dynamics’ walking robots have an amazing reputation for being extraordinarily. They are able to walk over rough terrain and surfaces that in some cases are challenging even for humans.
Google executives said the company would honor existing military contracts, but that it did not plan to move toward becoming a military contractor on its own.
Under a $10.8 million contract, Boston Dynamics is currently supplying Darpa with a set of humanoid robots named Atlas to participate in the Darpa Robotics Challenge, a two-year contest with a $2 million prize. The contest’s goal is creating a class of robots that can operate in natural disasters and catastrophes like the nuclear power plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.
“Competitions like the Darpa Robotics Challenge stretch participants to try to solve problems that matter and we hope to learn from the teams’ insights around disaster relief,” Mr. Rubin said in a statement released by Google.
“computers are starting to sprout legs and move around in the environment. – Andy Rubin”
Boston Dynamics has also designed robots that can climb walls and trees as well as other two- and four-legged walking robots. Mr. Rubin has called his robotics effort a “moonshot,” but has declined to describe specific products that might come from the project. However, he does not expect initial product development to go on for years.
“I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big, with the resources to make it happen.” said Dr. Raibert.