Many may consider Friday the 13th unlucky, but for California’s Google and Boston Dynamics, the 13th December 2013 was a particularly good day, as the two tech firms announced a partnership that saw Google buy the major robotics company for an undisclosed sum.
Google ready to take the plunge into robotics
Boston Dynamics, of Waltham, Massachusetts is a robotic engineering company that has made waves in the tech community since its founding in 1992. One of the company’s first major projects was in collaboration with the Naval Air Warfare Centre Training Systems Division of the American Systems Corporation to modernise and simplify naval training videos and simulations.
Robots designed and built by Boston Dynamics are two or four-legged and are able to traverse terrain unfit for vehicles or men, making them ideal accompaniments to military divisions and bases. Each robot Boston Dynamics has made has been an elaboration and adaptation of a previous build, creating cutting edge technology with each and every robot. Products made by the company include BigDog, CHEETAH, LittleDog, RiSE, PETMAN, Legged Squad Support System (a fully militarised version of BigDog) and Atlas, an erect, walking robot designed for the outdoors.
As a part of Google, and now managed by Andy Rubin, co-founder and former CEO of Android Inc., Boston Dynamics join seven other robotics-related companies recently acquired by the corporation in its new ‘moonshot’ development department headed up by Rubin – where crazy, outlandish ideas are brought to life by sheer hard work, creative thinking and exploration.
Whilst Google has pledged to honour all existing military contracts, Boston Dynamics are yet to fulfill; it will not be taking on any more projects of that kind. This move will come as a blow to the US military, who have been using and developing robots with the Massachusetts firm for years for their Navy, Army and Marine Corps to establish a working, computerised task force, which may now be put in jeopardy as a result of Google’s acquisition.
Google’s move towards more ‘moonshot’ projects is a continuation of a new breed of plans from the corporation as it takes a step away from more commercial and advertising revenue wins. At present, almost 95 % of Google’s $50billion annual revenue is achieved by advertising, yet the firm is in danger of reaching saturation point in the market, and needs to adapt its strategy in order to stay current and relevant as start-ups and younger companies earn their share of the industry. By rolling out enterprises such as Google Glass, and the recent Self-Driving Car project, Google is cementing itself within important growth sectors in software design, hardware, materials science and engineering, furthered by the purchased of Boston Dynamics.
As a digital agency reliant on certain Google products for day-to-day analytics, PPC and SEO, Matter Of Form are intrigued and excited by this move towards robotic technology, as developments in software leading towards their adaptation is likely to result in advances in all of the firm’s technological offerings, as well as opportunities for marketable and affordable robots for business and agency use in the future.