by Anton Shilov
12/04/2013 | 11:55 PM
Andy Rubin has managed to create an operating system for mobile devices that is considered as the “next Windows” by many. However, on March this year he officially resigned from his position of the senior vice president of mobile and content at Google and left the management of Android to others. As it is now clear, he had a clear reason to stop heading the mobile division: he is now in charge of the all-new robotics group at Google.
As it turns out, Google has quietly took over seven technology companies in the past six months in a bid to create a new generation of robots. The man to manage the new team is Andy Rubin, best known for his work on Google Android, reports the New York Times. What most people do not know is that Mr. Rubin actually began his engineering career at Carl Zeiss as a robotics engineer, so he is not completely new in this field.
“I have a history of making my hobbies into a career. This is the world’s greatest job. Being an engineer and a tinkerer, you start thinking about what you would want to build for yourself,” said Mr. Rubin.
Andy Rubin and his robots. Image by the NYT.
Among the companies that Google took over there is Schaft (a small team of Japanese roboticists who develop a humanoid robot), Industrial Perception (developer of computer vision systems and robot arms for loading and unloading trucks), Meka and Redwood Robotics (makers of humanoid robots and robot arms in San Francisco), Bot & Dolly (a designer of robotic camera systems that were used to create special effects in the movie “Gravity”), Autofuss (and advertising and design company) and Holomni (a developer of high-tech wheels). These companies possess technologies needed to build a mobile robot.
Google will continue with acquisitions in the robotics field. Besides, the company is hiring various hardware and software specialists as well as bringing in its own employees into the project.
Mr. Rubin said that both manufacturing and logistics markets were not being served by today’s robotic technologies completely. Therefore, electronics assembly robots as well as delivery and load/unload robots are clear opportunities for Google. Still, this is a project that will last for a long time and currently it is hard to say which result it will deliver.
“Like any moonshot, you have to think of time as a factor. We need enough runway and a 10-year vision. […] I feel with robotics it’s a green field,” he said. “We’re building hardware, we’re building software. We’re building systems, so one team will be able to understand the whole stack,” concluded Mr. Rubin.