INTERNET GIANT Google is working with Hon Hai Precision Technologies' Foxconn subsidiary on robots, according to a report at the Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal has spoken with insiders who said that the collaboration has been in place for a little while but has been kept quiet. We have asked both firms to comment, but neither has responded yet.
Foxconn has met with Google, and recently Google's Andy Rubin met with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou in Taipei.
Though neither firm has commented, Google is working on robotics and has made a number of moves in the field. Just this year it bought artificial intelligence outfit Deepmind for $400m, and last year it invested heavily in Boston Dynamics, a military robotics outfit.
Foxconn's interest might stem from a desire to use fewer human workers in its Chinese factories. It could deploy robotics to automate some of its manufacturing processes.
"Foxconn needs Google's help to step up automation at its factories as the company has the lowest sales per employee among the contract makers, given its large workforce," said Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Securities to the Wall Street Journal.
"Using robots to replace human workers would be the next big thing in the technology industry. Not just Google, other major technology companies such as Microsoft and Amazon also have been developing robotics technology to capture the future growth opportunities."
The Wall Street Journal reckons that the moves are designed to enable Google to become more involved in manufacturing and help it compete with companies like Amazon. µ