Andy Rubin's Next Moonshot is Robots for Google

December 04, 2013
By: Michelle Amodio

The guy who built Android is moving onto other robotic endeavors, only this time for Google (News - Alert) itself.

Andy Rubin’s latest moonshot is building robots at Google – robots that could one day replace a lot of the physical labor people have to do now. The New York Times reports that Google has purchased seven different robot companies for a secretive new robotics initiative, and placed Rubin at its head.

Rubin, who has a background in robotics, has already acquired several AI and robotics companies in the U.S. and Japan, including ones that specialize in humanoid robots and vision systems.

Rubin told about his robotic endeavors to the Times an interview, but wouldn't provide many details about the plan specifics. Apparently, the robot group is distinct from the Google X lab, which has become equal with the company's other projects, such as self-driving cars and a balloon-powered Internet.

“I have a history of making my hobbies into a career,” Mr. Rubin told the Times in a telephone interview. “This is the world’s greatest job. Being an engineer and a tinkerer, you start thinking about what you would want to build for yourself.”

Rubin told The Times that he has become frustrated with the complexities of the consumer electronics industry, and hopes that the new robotics venture will be different, focusing on pure hardware and software.

Given Amazon’s recent news of delivery drones, it seems like these two tech behemoths are in a race for robotics dominance.  Google's effort, based on Rubin’s testimony, is quite less dramatic since it's aimed at industrial and business-to-business markets, and the New York Times reports that several specialists are guessing that it's related to automating portions of the supply chain.

Amazon's program, called Prime Air is expected to operate differently, using drones capable of transporting a 5lb package up to 10 miles away from an Amazon fulfillment center, completely unmanned.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker