Alphabet, Google s parent company, has reportedly put its robotic arm, Boston Dynamics up for sale. The company could possibly be acquired by Amazon, which makes robots for its fulfillment centers, or by Toyota Research Institute, which is a division of Toyota Motor Corp, Bloomberg reports. Also Read - Google announces six new Android features, which will roll out this yearAlso Read - Google Workspace now available for everyone, including free Google account owners
Last month, Boston Dynamics published a video on YouTube showing its latest Atlas humanoid performing certain tasks such as walking in the snow, picking up objects and get up after a fall. While it seemed like Google and team were pushing the robot technology in the frontier, there was a completely different drama going behind the scene. Also Read - UEFA Euro 2020: Colourful Google Doodle kicks off European Football Championship
Executives at Alphabet were looking at the moonshot projects under its umbrella that could generate real revenue over the next few years and not decades. They reached a conclusion that for the next few years, Boston Dynamics is highly unlikely to produce any marketable product and decided to put it up for sale, people familiar with Google s plans told Bloomberg.
Google acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013 and seven other robotics companies in the same year as a part of its moonshot ventures. Spearheaded by former Android chief, Andy Rubin, he got around 300 robotics engineers onboard to work on the robotics initiative called Replicant. A year later, Rubin left the company, after which it was plagued with leadership changes. While Google wasn t able to recruit a new leader, the teams failed to collaboratively work between other divisions, the publication reports.
In a meeting that took place in November last year, Jonathan Rosenberg, temporary in charge and adviser to Alphabet CEO Larry Page, said, we as a start-up of our size cannot spend 30-plus percent of our resources on things that take ten years. There s some time frame that we need to be generating an amount of revenue that covers expenses and (that) needs to be a few years.”
In December, the search engine giant announced that Replicant would be a part of its advanced research group, Google X. In a private meeting, the head of Google X, Astro Teller told Replicant employees that if Google can t find a solution to solve practical problems with robotics, all engineers will be reassigned on different projects.
Even the video of robots getting smarter and the recent dog video wasn’t appreciated by the communications team at Google, which felt that the advancements in robotics could have a negative rub off effect on Google’s overall business.
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, said Courtney Hohne, Google X spokeswoman and director of communications at Google.