Google on Friday confirmed that it has bought Boston Dynamics, the eight robotics company it has purchased in the last six months.
The company did not say how much it paid for the engineering company founded by a former MIT professor, and which has developed various robots so far including devices for the military, The New York Times reports.
While Boston Dynamics also has contracts with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which will be honored under Google, the Search giant will not pursue military-related robotics projects “on its own.”
Boston Dynamics has created robots capable of running 29mph or faster than Ushain Bolt, maintaining their balance through rough terrain, when pushed or when walking on ice, and even jump over obstacles (see the above and below videos). In addition to animal-inspired devices, such as the WildCat, Cheetah or BigDog, the company has also developed a humanoid robot called Atlas for a DARPA contest – the object of the “game” is to create a robot that can “operate in natural disasters and catastrophes like the nuclear power plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.”
What will Google do with Boston Dynamics or its other robotics purchases is not known at this time. As we already know, former Android boss Andy Rubin is now heading the company’s robotics efforts, and we may see him one day launch an actual Google Android humanoid robot – and yes, we’re hoping it won’t lead to robots travelling back through time to save Sarah Connor.
But Rubin told the NYT that we’re years away from seeing the first commercial robots from Google, so don’t get too excited just yet:
Mr. Rubin has called his robotics effort a “moonshot,” but has declined to describe specific products that might come from the project. He has, however, also said that he does not expect initial product development to go on for years, indicating that Google commercial robots of some nature could be available in the next several years.
Will Android be part of Google’s future robotic plans? We’ll just have to wait patiently and see.