After Android, Google is Actually Taking on Robots
A new piece in the New York Times today features an interview with Google’s Andy Rubin (no relation), the former head of the company’s Android division. Since stepping down from that role, Rubin has decided to go after the mobile operating system’s namesake—specifically, he’s in charge of coordinating Google’s efforts to make real, honest-to-goodness robots.
The post notes that Google has systematically been acquiring several robotics start-ups in Asia and the United States, all of which seem to specialize in different areas of expertise when it comes to making mechs. Those specializations include “computer vision systems,” “robot arms,” “robotic camera systems,” and “high-tech wheels,” all of which could likely be combined into a monumentally strong effort when housed under one roof. And it seems that Rubin is the right guy for the job, having worked for Carl Zeiss as a robotics engineer in the 1990s.
Sadly, the initiative seems to be more focused on the manufacturing and automation side of things, rather than the creation of the kinds of robots we see in movies and TV. And here I was getting excited for the future of law enforcement to look a lot more like Almost Human.
Even still, this is Google we’re talking about—they don’t really do anything by half-measures. The article already makes more than a few references to Google’s self-driving cars, which are becoming more and more realistic a proposition each day. Furthermore, I can’t help but be reminded of a Slate piece I read a while ago, in which we learn that Google’s ambitions are nothing short of recreating the computer from Star Trek in terms of how users will interact with its search services. The recent roll-out of “OK Google” is proof enough that the company is well on its way to make good on that dream.
So while Google’s robotic efforts are currently geared more for the factory than the living room, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be that way forever. The quest to make artificial intelligence has been ongoing for years and years, and I can imagine that the constant innovations and research coming out of Google will help speed that along as well.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.