Google’s amazing robot beasts could get to know you a little too well
by Aaron Pressman
The Exchange – Yahoo Finance
Dec 16, 2013
The field of robotics is zooming past the lumbering assembly line machines of today, quite literally with machines that can run, jump and climb. But the new breed of robots uses vast amounts of data about the world in addition to their high-tech motors, springs and sensors.
That’s likely why Google (GOOG) is getting into the business. The search giant last week bought Boston Dynamics, marking its eighth acquisition of a robotics company in the past six months, the New York Times reported over the weekend. But while Google’s previous acquisitions were companies that made bits and parts of robots, the Boston Dynamics deal makes clear that Google’s true ambition is human-like robots interacting with ordinary people.
“The only reason to buy this company is to make complete androids, systems that can walk around on our sidewalks and right up to our homes,” says Illah Nourbakhsh, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and author of the book Robot Futures. Such bots could be incredibly helpful, but also incredibly invasive as they send data and pictures back to Google, he says.
Started by former MIT professor Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics so far has designed animal-like machines that can carry heavy packs, climb mountains and even run at high speed. The company’s Wildcat robot can gallop at 16 miles per hour, as shown in a video posted to Youtube and viewed over 15 million times.
[h/t: Jan Irvin]