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Google picks up military robotics firm

Posted: 18 Dec 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:robotics  autonomous systems  computer vision 

Adding to the seven robotics firms it purchased over the past six months, Google confirmed last week that it has acquired Boston Dynamics for an unspecified amount. The engineering company is known for its heavy-duty robots and for its work with the United States Department of Defence.

Founder Marc Raibert did not elaborate on what Google plans to do in terms of product development. Raibert, a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, started Boston Dynamics in 1992 and initially did consulting work for Sony on consumer robots like the Aibo dog. The company is currently under a $10.8 million contract with the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the supply of humanoid robots. Such existing military contracts will be fulfilled under Google's management but similar military projects will no longer be pursued.

Google picks up military robotics firm

Figure 1: WildCat robot can run faster than any human. Source: Boston Dynamics

The robotics firms Google has picked up, which are based in the United States and Japan, specialise in cutting edge technologies such as software for advanced robot arms, computer vision and grasping mechanism, according to the New York Times. Google's venture into robotics could possibly be part of a bigger play into autonomous systems. Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who has expressed interest in developing advanced sensor technology, is leading the robotics programme.

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