What’s Google Doing With All These Robotics Companies?

Matthew Holten Science/Technology

TOPIO_3Apparently, Google has an addiction. Not like the ones you or I may be suffering from, however. Google has to have it’s fix, and that fix is robotics companies. Google is buying up robotics companies like Donald Trump in a toupee factory.

And that is good news… I hope. In a moneyless society or resource-based economy, robots such as these would be worth their weight in gold (if gold would continue to be “worth” anything in a world without money, lol). I think it is a good idea for one company to purchase multiple companies that are pioneering fields like this, and bring them under one roof so they can consolidate and combine forces and technologies. But, what are their intentions? It can sound kind of ominous when one of the most successful and wealthiest technology-based companies in the world starts buying other companies that are receiving funding from DARPA, an arm of the United States Department of Defense.

The eight robotics companies Google has purchased within the last seven months (six of them in six days), are Boston Dynamics (receiving funding from DARPA), Schaft, Industrial Perception, Bot & Dolly, Holomini, Redwood Robotics, Meka Robotics, and their latest addition – Deep Mind, an artificial intelligence trailblazer for use in robot “minds”.

Boston Dynamics in particular is a robotic-powerhouse, and probably the most significant addition to their arsenal. Some of the achievements of this cutting-edge company have included the humanoid-like “Atlas”, the 30-mph running “WildCat”, and the next-to-impossible-to-knock-over “BigDog”. In a moneyless society, these could obviously all be a big help:


Boston Dynamics Atlas

[responsive_youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkBnFPBV3f0]

 Boston Dynamics WildCat

[responsive_youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE3fmFTtP9g]

 Boston Dynamics Big Dog

[responsive_youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1czBcnX1Ww]

Schaft is another impressive acquisition, with their robot coming in first place in DARPA’s robot challenge, which presented 8 tasks, including  walking up a ladder, opening doors, picking up debris, and even driving a car.

Schaft, Inc

[responsive_youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diaZFIUBMBQ]


Obviously the usefulness of robotics such as these in a resource based economy, or moneyless society, is enormous, but what exactly is Google planning on doing with all these robots? It could be something that could be really good or really bad… or maybe even both. Who knows? Google says their mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” That could mean a lot of different things. Maybe they intend to use some of the robots to actually go off-road and take pictures of places that you can’t get to with cars, like they’re doing with the street view in Google Maps. Some of the robots have wonderful implications for rescue operations and things of that nature, as well.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a little concerning that an organization with so much power in intelligence is also gaining the same sort of power in the robotics field, which will probably only grow in influence and scope the future. I think it’s inevitable before some of this technology ends up on the battlefield. It’s obvious that robots are going to fight our wars of the future. I guess it’s better than people being out there dying… But who knows? Maybe these robots will help us get to a moneyless society and actually implement the systems we need to start a resource based economy. But, I suppose if Google wants in on the game of building military-robots as well, they can do that, too. I just hope that the robots of our future  help us become a more peace-loving society that promotes the well-being and prosperity of all, and not the opposite.  I guess only time will tell.