The New York Times, which confirmed earlier this month that Google has been quietly buying up robotics companies, reports that the search giant has added an eighth acquisition to the mix: Boston Dynamics.
Within the robotics community, that’s probably the biggest name to be bought up yet. The previous companies acquired during Google’s recent spending spree include Autofuss, Bot & Dolly, Holomni, Industrial Perception, Meka Robotics, Redwood Robotics and Schaft. (Note: Several of those websites are just placeholders now as the companies move behind Google’s veil of secrecy.)
Boston Dynamics has been featured on this site quite a bit lately, thanks to its contract to build Atlas robots for the DARPA Robotics Challenge as well as the WildCat video it released in the fall and its work on the “Individual Protection Ensemble Mannequin System” project. Fans of cool robot videos are no doubt dismayed that the company will likely limit its YouTube output under Google. However, as the variety of robots participating in the Robotics Challenge shows, Boston Dynamics isn’t the only mobile robot game in town.
According to the Times, Google will honor the company’s existing military contracts but doesn’t plan to become a military contractor. It remains to be seen who will fill the void left by Boston Dynamics’ absence — or whether we’ve reached a tipping point in robotics where future innovation is driven less by the military spending and more by civilian industry, as is becoming the case with another one of Google’s pet projects, self-driving cars.
[ image courtesy of Boston Dynamics ]