Google Adds Another Robotics Company to its Fold with the Purchase of Boston Dynamics


Published Date : Dec 16, 2013

Internet giant Google Inc’s interest in robotics has reached a new level after reports that it has purchased Boston Dynamics, a company that is engaged in robotics R&D. Google confirmed the transaction in a statement issued December 14. 

Boston Dynamics-founded by Dr Marc Raiber in 1992—is most renowned in the industry for working closely with the U.S. military on projects such as developing fast-moving and agile robots that can be deployed on the battlefield or in mobile research projects. 

The company has earned accolades for developing robots such as Cheetah—a robot that can run faster than Usain Bolt (considered the fastest human on earth) and Big Dog—a quadruped that is capable of lifting and throwing heavy objects. The company extensively consulted Sony during its development of Aibo-the robotic dog.

According to sources, the company’s latest ongoing project comprises a $10.8 million contract wherein it is supplying Atlas units to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for its Robotics Challenge. 

Andy Rubin, who heads Google’s Robotics Division, said that challenges such as these are the best platform to new gain insights into the usefulness of robots in disaster relief operations. Incidentally, Andy Rubin is also credited for Google’s Android software—a dominant platform in the world of smartphones today.

While industry observers have been speculating Google’s interest in robotics for some time now, they surely aren’t as surprised by the company’s latest purchase considering that the company has already brought eight robotics companies under its aegis in the second half of 2013. Previously, Google has purchased companies such as Schaft.inc that is involved in the development of humanoid robots, Redwood Robotics that develops advanced robotic arms, and Industrial Perception that is best known for its work in the computer vision arena.

Industry observers speculate the Google could be developing automated ‘servants’ that could be deployed on manufacturing lines and warehouse duties. Financial details of the deal were not made available by the company.