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Google Searches for Robots’ Home

Google will try to map a path to mainstream robotics, according to a New York Times interview with the man behind the move. The search company has the cash and a smart, passionate, and experienced enthusiast. The open question is whether that's enough to turn this broadly fascinating field into any mainstream commercial opportunities.

Leading the charge is Andy Rubin, the engineer who brought us the operating system he called Android after his passion for robotics. Rubin used Google's software and financial clout to create a version of mobile Linux that has risen above a crowd of small OSes.

Today Android increasingly dominates in smartphones and tablets, but I think the job in robotics is different and tougher. Robotics has long been fascinating potential that's been tough to realize.

MIT robotics researchers had the first big breakthrough with its Roomba automated vacuum cleaner — a rare consumer spinoff from its military robots. More recently, Willow Garage created a humanoid robotics platform — and a robotics open-source software group — to give interested innovators some traction.

DARPA recently launched a challenge to develop the best search-and-rescue humanoid robot. That program has already spawned some exciting work. Even Wall Street sees the potential; a robotics stock index tracks 77 companies in the area.

Rubin has mass market savvy from his work on Android, as well as Google's financial backing, which the NYT article said has enabled him to buy seven robotics companies, including:

  • Schaft, the Japanese maker of a humanoid robot
  • Industrial Perception, a computer vision and robotic arm startup
  • Meka and Redwood Robotics, makers of humanoid robots and robot arms
  • Bot and Dolly, whose robotic cameras were used in the movie Gravity
  • Autofuss, an advertising and design firm
  • Holomni, a maker of specialized wheels

There's no doubt Rubin's effort will attract a flood of resumés from engineers who share his passion for robotics. I'd love to hear from some of you about what you see as the untapped commercial opportunities and challenges of getting them on mechanical legs.

This article originally appeared in EBN's sister publication EETimes.

22 comments on “Google Searches for Robots’ Home

  1. Daniel
    December 12, 2013

    “Google will try to map a path to mainstream robotics, according to a New York Times interview with the man behind the move. The search company has the cash and a smart, passionate, and experienced enthusiast. The open question is whether that's enough to turn this broadly fascinating field into any mainstream commercial opportunities.”

    Rick, it seems that Google is diversifying their business from IT to allied areas. Recently I read about their offering for Lighting as a service through fiber networks.  We have to really appreciate their efforts to bring new technology and innovation for public benefits.

  2. SP
    December 13, 2013

    Yes Robots is going to be a attractive commercial venture. Although at the starting it will be a luxury item to afford and price would be high but in the long run it would be more affordable. Personally I would want to own one to do all regular jobs at home.

  3. Daniel
    December 15, 2013

    “Yes Robots is going to be a attractive commercial venture. Although at the starting it will be a luxury item to afford and price would be high but in the long run it would be more affordable. Personally I would want to own one to do all regular jobs at home.”

    SP, I read in one of the online article that Google's next aim is to offer “Robotics as a service”. So you can opt for their service in future.

  4. Adeniji Kayode
    December 17, 2013

    @ Jacob, Already robots are coming into domestic use now and we should expect to see more. I think Google has a foresight into what the nearest future would be like and is strategically positioning itself for the opportunities that will come with it.

  5. Adeniji Kayode
    December 17, 2013

    @SP, you are right on that. What started as a desire to own would eventually end up being a matter of necessity sooner or later. I mean with time, robots will become a “MUST HAVE” in the homes just like water and electricity.

  6. Daniel
    December 17, 2013

    “Already robots are coming into domestic use now and we should expect to see more. I think Google has a foresight into what the nearest future would be like and is strategically positioning itself for the opportunities that will come with it.”

    Adeniji, it's like Google's tendency of offering everything “as a service”. They started the initiative from cloud service, the latest one is light as a service and in future Robots as a service.

  7. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    December 31, 2013

    @Jacob, my very non technical mother said yesterday “I am so tired of Google, no matter where I go there they are!” If its reached the least savvy consumer, it means they've really gone in a bunch of directions.

  8. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    December 31, 2013

    @SP, I'd like a home robot…but one as they show in the movies that's got some personality!

  9. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    December 31, 2013

    If we are going to go down this Everything As a Service road, we're going to need a bigger alphabet. Robots as a Servcie (RaaS) has already been taken by Microsoft as Risk Assessment Program (RAP) as a Service (or RaaS for short ).

  10. Daniel
    January 1, 2014

    “my very non technical mother said yesterday “I am so tired of Google, no matter where I go there they are!” If its reached the least savvy consumer, it means they've really gone in a bunch of directions.”

    Diversification is the best way to grow and capture market share at various segments

  11. Daniel
    January 1, 2014

    “If we are going to go down this Everything As a Service road, we're going to need a bigger alphabet. Robots as a Servcie (RaaS) has already been taken by Microsoft as Risk Assessment Program (RAP) as a Service (or RaaS for short ).”

    Hailey, as a service is abbreviated as “aaS”, so the remaining thing is filling the starting letter. As you mentioned most probably it may like RaaS

  12. t.alex
    January 4, 2014

     Not sure what Google's gonna do with the robots. Perhaps it is some branding or marketing move.

  13. Daniel
    January 5, 2014

    “Not sure what Google's gonna do with the robots. Perhaps it is some branding or marketing move.”

    Alex, wait and see; may be “Robotics as a service”

  14. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    January 7, 2014

    @jacob, i'm betting robots as a service is on the horizon for sure.

  15. t.alex
    January 8, 2014

    Jacob, i have one iRobot at home for vacuum cleaning. Is this considered Robot-as-a-service? 

    Perhaps google will make the robots much smarter with their super computing.

  16. Daniel
    January 8, 2014

    “i'm betting robots as a service is on the horizon for sure.”

    Hailey predictions or expectations are like that, but so far Google hadn't expressed any such business details.

  17. Wale Bakare
    January 9, 2014

    >>Diversification is the best way to grow and capture market share at various segments<<

    A friend once said, “I can sell my house or properties to be a shareholder in Google, because i really like those guys running Google, is the only technology firm i can invest in”

     

  18. Daniel
    January 9, 2014

    “i have one iRobot at home for vacuum cleaning. Is this considered Robot-as-a-service?  Perhaps google will make the robots much smarter with their super computing.”

    Alex, since its own by you, its not coming under the purview of “as-a-service”. According to the definition of as-a-service, somebody has to be offer the service with a billing model.

  19. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    January 10, 2014

    @t.alex, but if you paid a monthly fee to have your irobot show up and vacuum….then that would be RaaS

  20. t.alex
    January 11, 2014

    ah, now I understand the definition 🙂 thank you

  21. Daniel
    January 12, 2014

    “A friend once said, “I can sell my house or properties to be a shareholder in Google, because i really like those guys running Google, is the only technology firm i can invest in””

    Wale, may be true. They are offering the service on both edges; billing model and open source. So they can catch hold all level of peoples.

  22. Daniel
    January 12, 2014

    “ah, now I understand the definition 🙂 thank you”

    Alex, thanks for your understanding. “As a service” means, somebody has offer you the service under either with a billing or free model.

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