Google and their robot army is headed your way, and will be a part of your future very soon. Google has acquired eight robot companies just this year, their most recent one being Boston Dynamics. Should you, will you, be afraid, or will you welcome your new robot Overlords with welcoming arms?
Why is Google interested in Boston Dynamics and other robotics companies?
Google is aggressively expanding its robotics division, and the purchase of Boston Dynamics, which produces robots for the military, is Google’s latest foray into investing in companies which are creating products on the cutting edge of technology, products which will impact all of our lives.
Boston Dynamics (founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert),creates four-legged walking robots that have many applications. They can carry heavy loads, investigate rugged and potentially dangerous terrains, and do the grunt work of the military without putting human lives on the line.
BigDog is perhaps their best-known four-legged robot. It is capable of carrying heavy loads of up to 340 pounds over rough terrain, which makes it a perfect for use in combat-style situations. Boston dynamics posted a video of BigDog on YouTube back in 2008, and it went viral. The video has received over 15 million views, and it has inspired people to even make parody videos of it.
Wildcat is one of Boston Dynamic’s more recent gasoline-powered robots. It is faster and smaller than BigDog, and has a galloping or bounding sort of gait. According to the company, Wildcat is capable of running up to 16 mph on a flat surface.
Boston Dynamics has also developed an even faster robot, the Cheetah. The Cheetah is capable of reaching speeds of up to 28.3 mph. on a treadmill. The company will begin testing it in outdoor situations in 2014.
Atlas is one of the latest two-legged, humanoid types of robots that Boston Dynamics has developed. It has a gait similar to humans, and its arms act like human arms, aiding in balancing the robot. One day, robots like Atlas might be used in cases like assisting in nuclear power plant meltdown situations, or to fight our wars for us.
Petman is another of Boston Dynamic’s humanoid robots. According to information in the accompanying video, Petman can control its temperature through sweating. Though Atlas and Petman could be “weaponized,” Google currently has no plans to do so. Beside the videos here, you can view videos of these robots on Boston Dynamics’ YouTube Channel, which is the last source listed below.
Though Google has stated that it will honor the Boston Dynamic’s existing military contracts, it has no plans of “becoming a military contractor on its own.”
Video of Petman and other Boston Dynamics robots
Andy Rubin is the man behind the robot army Google is creating
Andy Rubin, the former head of Android Inc., is the mastermind behind Google’s robotics project. Though Google is interested in developing robots that have real-world applications, rather than ones used primarily for military purposes, Rubin and others realize that the military industrial complex, like the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is funding much of the cutting edge research being done in the field of robotics.
The other seven robotics companies Google has purchased this year are Holomni, Bot & Dolly, Autofuss, Redwood Robotics, Meka, Industrial Perception, and Schaft.
Google is already a leader in its use of Internet robots. Throw in the robots that the companies Google has acquired are creating, and the self-driving car that the company is marketing, and Japan’s idea of using robots to care for the elderly, and Google’s robotic army might one day soon outnumber humans.
Written by: Douglas Cobb