Google has a new moonshot: to build a generation of service robots that can automate everything from manufacturing to logistics to the service industry. To build these robots Google has tasked Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, to lead a team creating the hardware and software that will bring the machines to life.
Rubin was the founder of Android, which Google bought in 2005. Rubin was the man responsible for developing the Android mobile operating system for smartphones and tablets and turning it into the most-used OS in the world. He left his post as head of Android earlier in March this year to work on an unspecified project at the company.
We now know what that is: Rubin is leading a Google project to engineer humanoid and service robots, the better to automate electronics processes like logistics, manufacturing and delivery.
To fill out Rubin's team, Google has quietly acquired seven different robot technology companies in order to work toward this goal, according to the New York Times, which broke the story. The goal is for these companies to work together to create what the NYT's John Markoff describes as a “mobile, dexterous robot.”
At a time when Amazon is planning delivery by drone with a prospective timeline of “four to five years,” Google executives acknowledge that humanoid robots are a bit of a “moonshot.” But it makes sense that the company that developed a self-driving car would continue to push the boundaries of modern robotics.