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Google taking steps toward robot creation

Amazon is promising drones? Well, Google is building robots.
Amazon is promising drones? Well, Google is building robots.
Mark Lennihan, AP

Amazon is promising delivery drones?

Well, Google is building robots.

On Wednesday, details surfaced about Google’s latest project of building robots, according to USA Today, which initially reported on Google’s latest project in August. But now, it’s been announced that Andy Rubin — who led Google in creating the Android operating system — would head this project, too, with a group of technology companies.

Rubin, 50, stepped away from his position at Google and was coy about his next project, USA Today reported. It looks like it’ll be building robots with a group of companies. BBC News recently offered details about the new companies.

“Google has created a new robotics group under Rubin and bought seven tech companies in the past six months, including Schaft, Industrial Perception, Meka and Redwood Robotics, to help with the push, according to a person familiar with the situation,” USA Today reported.

The robots won’t be for consumers, though. Google's building the robots to help with manufacturing — “like electronics assembly, which is now largely manual” — and retailing, where Google hopes to compete with Amazon, The New York Times reported.

“The opportunity is massive,” said Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at the M.I.T. Center for Digital Business to The New York Times. “There are still people who walk around in factories and pick things up in distribution centers and work in the back rooms of grocery stores.”

Like Amazon’s latest idea to use drones for delivering packages, Google’s thought is that someday “there will be automated delivery to the doorstep, which for now is dependent on humans,” The New York Times reported.

These robots may pose a challenge to Amazon, according to BBC News. The world’s largest online retailer’s vision includes “using drones to transport goods to its customers by air,” which would directly compete with Google’s new robots if they become automated for package deliveries, BBC reported.

But even if robots never surface and remain hidden in Google’s offices in Palo Alto, Calif., the Internet search company — along with UPS — is testing out delivery drones, too, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Columnist Matt Krantz of USA Today was interviewed in a Q&A about how investors should look at drones and robots, which are both in their early stages of development.

He said that “investors are starting to understand robots and drones are quickly growing beyond their traditional dead-end jobs on factory floors. There could be money to be made by investors who pick the right companies at the forefront of drone technology.”


Twitter: @hscribner