Will Google’s Robots Change Business Or Just Scare Everybody?

    December 16, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

What many of us have anticipated and joked about (uneasily) for years is now coming to fruition. Google is quickly assembling an army of robots. The company has acquired eight robotics companies (that we know of), and is using them for something that it is saying very little about.

What would you like to see Google do with robots? Let us know in the comments.

The initiative, as little as we really know about it, was revealed earlier this month when The New York Times shed some light on it, saying that Google is “tight-lipped about its specific plans,” but noting that the amount of money Google is putting into it, “indicates that this is no cute science project.”

In other words, this isn’t Google just messing around. Google is up to something big here, and it means business. What that means for the rest of us is to be determined.

With the original report, we learned that former Android chief Andy Rubin was behind the project, and that Google had acquired Schaft, Industrial Perception, Meka, Redwood Robotics, Bot & Dolly, Autofuss (specializing in video production) and Holomni. The news of the weekend was that Google has added Boston Dynamics to the list. This is one of the most famous (if not the most famous) robotics companies on the Internet. Its robots have gained a massive amount of attention in recent years, and with good reason. They’re truly amazing, and in most cases deeply terrifying on a “holy crap, this Terminator thing is really happening” kind of way.

I mean seriously. All joking aside, some of these machines are very human and animal-like. And they’re strong, powerful and fast. They’re exactly the kinds of things you wouldn’t want falling into the wrong hands. The question is: are Google’s the right hands?

Google has long had the “do no evil” mantra, but it is frequently accused of doing evil things, whether justified or not. As we live in times when real drones killing real people is not science fiction, but a harsh reality, people are right to question just what Google (or anyone) is going to do with these things.

We’re not saying Google is going to send out robots to kill people, but let’s hope Google’s intentions are not evil in any way. Perhaps they should at least talk a little more about their plans. This is a company, after all, that has been paying for “accidentally” collecting people’s data through Street View cars, and is apparently going to track people through physical stores to give data to advertisers.

Boston Dynamics works with the military – DARPA, the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps – and Google says it will honor existing contracts, but doesn’t intend to become a military contractor on its own, according to the Times.

Google does apparently intend to make good B2B use of its robots, however. According to the first NYT report about Rubin and the seven robot companies, Google isn’t aiming at consumers (“yet”), but manufacturing and “competing with companies like Amazon in retailing”. It mentions “automating portions of an existing supply chain that stretches from a factory floor to the companies that ship and deliver goods to a consumers’ doorstep.”

The report also mentions Google’s product delivery service (Google Shopping Express), suggesting that “Perhaps someday, there will be automated delivery to the doorstep.”

Amazon recently shared its version of such an scenario, though the skepticism about the possibility of the Amazon Prime Air drone service has been very loud. So far, Amazon can’t legally operate such flying drones. It’s entirely possible that they won’t be able to anytime soon either.

“Nothing they’re contemplating right now fits with that vision,” a source familiar with the FAA’s policy efforts told Yahoo Finance. “I don’t see it happening.”

But Boston Dynamics’ robots don’t fly. They walk, run, jump and climb walls. And who knows what they’ll be building as a part of Google? Could a human-like delivery bot riding a robot cheetah be more realistic? How about one riding in a self-driving car, and walking your package up to your doorstep?

Self-driving cars, need I remind you, have already started clearing some legal obstacles. In fact, a recent report suggests they may even make up 75% of sales by 2035.

Some are more concerned about the “evil” of Google potentially destroying jobs than any physical threat.

But hey, enough with the doom and gloom. There’s no arguing that Google has contributed a lot of great things to the world and to society, and robots could be part of some things more along those lines, right?

What do you expect Google to do with robots? Are you concerned or do you expect the company to do some really great things? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  • http://www.happyeventspk.com Happy Events

    May be they are preparing Robotic Staff, But you are there will always be an evil threat from Google or any other Industry giant.

  • http://www.frontlineweb.biz Mick

    Perhaps they are going to raise a robotic army,to take over the world it wont be called Earth any more but GOOGLE EARTH!!!!!

  • http://www.Disneyland.com Phonebooks

    I am intentionally using Bing and Yahoo because I can’t stand Google.

  • http://weborm.com george iov

    Google is huge, the money involved is huge, buying 8 robotic companies means a huge project is coming! Google is best in software development! Artificial intelligence is very suitable with robotics. Very interesting, I wish them success!

  • Aaron

    They should make an army of beautiful robotic women for bachelors over 40. Then they would REALLY make lots of money!

  • http://www.krinalmehta.com Krinal Mehta

    On the web, they have always been preaching about keeping it clean, etc. Are these robots going to keep the environment clean physically? It’s more scary than it sounds actually.

  • kay

    time to use new search engines which are NON USA origin !!

  • glover

    if this robots will like 2012+ googlebot, we have nothing to worry about. Just google need to find person like matt cutts who will learn robot, and robot will confused for 101%!

  • glover

    also i not believe now what google will do something useful. google can do some kind of spyware robot/slave to sell it to world most rich peoples. as we know new google rule of life – make bloody money & kill everybody, go by corpses until you can.

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  • http://www.7Search.com Robert Payne

    I think with the recent announcement from Amazon to use drones makes it obvious. Google wants to take over the United States Post Office! Those little creatures will be marching down every street in the US, and then the world, delivering packages and mail, 24/7, in rain, wind, or snow. Just think, no more strikes, no more “going postal”, no more unfunded retirement obligations, self driving vehicles. You will go into the post office and one of those robots will ask you if you want stamps, of blink at you and take your Passport picture. I just can’t wait to see the new uniforms.

  • http://www.starlove.tv Starlove

    Google destroyed my life, so who gives a **** what they do next.

    • https://plus.google.com/+ReubenOyeyele/posts Reuben

      That makes two of us plus millions of others. Let them acquire robots and hope the robots will behave like so many robots I have watched in movies turning on their creators.

      This is another evidence that humans (not Google as a search engine but the SOBs behind it)will never learn from history. Empires come and fall and each of them have a common aim World Domination. None has ever accomplished such a feat.

      Empires fall when they go too far and that is exactly what Google is doing. Power and wealth are their aim not caring for the poor souls trying to make a measely living on the internet.

      Let them go ahead and become robots themselves. Their robots in software has done immense damage already.

  • Conran

    There comes a time when a corporation becomes too powerful for the safety of the population, this is one of those times. In fact, given that Google can press a button and destroy hundreds of thousands of businesses in one go, they became that dangerous a long, long time ago.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, we all know this to be true. Give a banker the opportunity to make billions killing others and they won’t think twice about it. Give a government the power of dictatorial rule and they’ll take that opportunity with both hands. Give a military the opportunity to control a government and there will be a coup tomorrow.

    This should be stopped, this is dangerous, no one has any reason to trust any corporation on this planet, and thousands of reasons to view every one of them as a threat.

    Just look at the actions of so many corporations on the planet, soulless, without morals, destructive, greedy beyond all rationality… this will never end well.

    • Reuben

      Man you are right. I just wrote a similar thing above. I will make you my friend because we have similar thought it seems.

  • Quiote

    Mussolini said Faschism should be called corporatism.

  • Cookie_Monster

    You’ve got to be Joking!?! “There’s no arguing that Google has contributed a lot of great things to the world and to society!” Examples please? Anti-trust legislation about the way they Data-Mine peoples personal details including that of children perhaps? No, how about Anti-trust legislation over the way they monopolise Comparison Ad’s? No, how about the aquisition of Nest and there new vision, a Google android spying on you with your own TV? No, how about the Google smart watch tagging the entire population like Criminals with some kind of ASBO? No, how about the privacy invasive Google glass? No, how about eviction’s of people living in housing to make way for more Googliness? No, how about using peoples own GPS to target them with drone strikes? Struggling really hard to figure out what Google contributes to society over here whilst they pay 0% tax…

    For the first time in history, a majority in Congress and the UK are now millionaires! No wonder support for them has collapsed to under 10%. Class inequality and corporate corruption at every level have deeply eroded confidence in the American dream and Google and the two parties that seem to support them.

    Apparently its never a good idea to have the legaslative branch and the executive branch in the same room together!

    For the life of me I cant imagine why!?!

    Spying on OPEC and Petrobas is all about stopping Pedo’s & Terrorists – According to the CIA & NSA!

    Thats whilst they erode the very encryption standards that are supposed to keep the entire world safe from corperate corruption and the president of the United States gets busy signing off for over a half a million AK-47 magazines, but feel free to correct me if I am wrong but doesnt the US Armed Services still use the M16? IMPEACH NOW.. If you keep waiting, you’ll wait forever… Time for your Commander and Chief to face the music, he’s only carrying on what was started under Bush & Blair… Or was it started under Nixon? Unix-On? Windows 95 OS2 and NSA_Key.dll

    As to former President Bush’s statement that your “Either with US or against US..” If google is your vision for the future then yes, we’re 100% against you and your destructive policies that have lead to this moment in history. You’ve got TSA agents frisking AMERICAN children under the age of six for underpant’s bomb’s when any highly trained operative would strangle them with a shoe-lace… Jefferson – “Give me Liberty or Death!” Bush – “Give up your Liberty or you’re all going to Die!”

    Right or Wrong??? You decide!

    “Salus populi suprema lex esto, lex est summa veritas!”