In a video published late last month on YouTube, Boston Dynamics showed of a number of the company’s prototype robots. I wouldn’t by any means describe them as humanoid, but more a ragtag collection of robots reminiscent of a Discovery show on the mountain goat’s ability to deal with difficult slopes and weather.
Google puts Boston Dynamics up for sale after video blow back?
Yes and no. In addition to the mountain goat robots the company has shown a few prototypes that suggest that they could function a bit like humans.
While Google is looking to get additional revenue out of each of its departments organized under Alphabet, it doesn’t seem to have faith in seeing anything soon from Boston Dynamics and has apparently put the division up for sale. While Ad sales will dominate Google revenue for the foreseeable future, Google’s cloud services are expected to compete with advertising by 2020. That’s what Google wants, more revenue diversification from each of its divisions.
But in addition, to the likelihood that Boston Dynamics likely wouldn’t have a revenue stream, the video that went viral also came with some bad juju for the company with viewers of the video suggesting that Google was trying to create robots capable of doing the work of humans and, by consequence, take their jobs.
“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs,” wrote Courtney Hohne, a director of communications at Google and the spokeswoman for Google X speaking to the video.
However, at the same time, Hohne asked her colleagues to “distance X from this video,” and wrote, “we don’t want to trigger a whole separate media cycle about where BD really is at Google.”
“We’re not going to comment on this video because there’s really not a lot we can add, and we don’t want to answer most of the Qs it triggers,” she wrote.
While other Google acquisitions have been folded into Google X, Boston Dynamics never was and now looks to be up for sale
Possible buyers for the 2013 Google Acquisition?
Google was buying big into robotics in 2013 when it acquired a number of robotics companies that ultimately landed 300 robot engineers in the halls of the Google Campuses. Google named its robotics division Replicant but when the man behind the acquisitions, Andy Rubin, left Google in 2014 Replicant is reported to have suffered from a lack of leadership.
Apparently, that lack of leadership left Boston Dynamics feeling that it didn’t need to collaborate with other Google robot engineers.
Aaron Edsinger, director of robotics at Google in San Francisco admits that he had hoped to work with Boston Dynamics to create a low-cost electric quadruped robot and felt “a bit of a brick wall” around the former Boston Dynamics execs.
Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics spoke of a meeting with Edsinger and others where he went on record saying, “I firmly believe the only way to get to a product is through the work we are doing in Boston. (I) don’t think we are the pie in the sky guys as much as everyone thinks we are.”
It looks as though Mr. Raibert is going to get his wish. Or at least until Amazon or Toyota, two reportedly interested parties, purchase Boston Dynamics and close up its Boston campus.