Google Leads the Robot Revolution with Boston
Credit: Boston Dynamics
This is perhaps a story to be filed under “WTF is up with that, Google?” In late December, 2013
Google announced that they had acquired Boston Dynamics, the robotics firm responsible for
creating the Big Dog robot (funded by DARPA to become the robotic pack mules for the armed
forces). Boston Dynamics is Google’s eighth acquisition in the robotics space in a short period
Like we needed any more evidence that Google is ramping up to become Skynet?
So what the F is all this robot acquisition about, Google? As AT&T researcher Chuck Kalmanek
points out via a blog post (republished by VentureBeat), Google is clearly playing the long
game. They understand that the advances in robotics over the last decade have indicated that it
is very likely there will come a time when robots will touch a majority of their human
counterparts lives on a daily basis.
(Hopefully it is a non threatening - not trying to enslave you type of touch. *shudders with fear of
In addition to the robotics companies Google has previously acquired - which in sum provide
humanoid robots, industrial robots, special effects robots and robotics components, such as
wheels and arms - the acquisition of the Big Dog seemingly completes their stable of ‘bots to
create a whole picture of the robotics future.
The Big Dog was created in 2005 with the objective that they would accompany soldiers into
terrain which is too tough for traditional vehicles. (Honestly, they’re more like a mule than a dog,
but the name is typical machismo stuff you’d expect from the armed forces.) In 2013, Boston
Dynamics released video of a modified Big Dog with a throwing arm (perhaps a new pitcher for
the Boston Red Sox? Ha, ha) which can lift and throw up to 50lbs of something… Further
they’ve improved the stability of the robot, it can now walk on ice and recovers balance when hit
from the side.
Obviously, this is a very important robotics advance and it makes a lot of sense why Google
would want to acquire it and the brains behind its’ creation. It will be interesting to see what
Google does next with these robots… very interesting, indeed.