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Google sparks fears of a 'robot army' with Boston Dynamics buy

Bring on the robot butlers
Mon Dec 16 2013, 11:07
A robot

INTERNET GIANT Google has announced that it bought robotics specialist Boston Dynamics.

Known for its range of machines including Bigdog, Cheetah, Wildcat and Atlas, Boston Dynamics' clients include the US Department of Defence. This represents the eighth purchase of a robotics firm made by Google within six months.

Observers think this is the jewel in the company's robotics crown, with Boston Dynamics robots having the reputation of being agile, well balanced and very fast.

Its most recent robot named Cheetah can run at 29 miles per hour. That would beat Usain Bolt over 100 metres, and it would be able to maintain that speed over longer distances, meaning Mo Farah wouldn't stand a chance.

No one knows what Google plans to do with the robotics technology it has acquired, or at least those who know aren't saying. All we really know is that Andy Rubin, the Google executive who managed Android development, is in charge of its robotics project(s).

The Pentagon connection, however, is interesting, as Google now owns a company with a proven track record in designing robots for the US military. Skynet, anyone?

Rubin has described the robotics acquisitions as a "moonshot", but also predicted that the company's robotics research will bear fruit in years rather than decades. Beneficial uses for robots, such as picking and packing, hazardous waste disposal and package delivery are all theoretically possible, however.

Google has not revealed the terms of the deal. µ 


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