A driverless car, Google Glass, Project Loon. These are just some of the projects being developed at Google X, Google’s semi-secret facility dedicated to making major technological advancements (other companies call this the “R&D Department”). Couple this with Google's recent robotics related acquisitions and we're getting a clearer view into the company's future.
Ever since Google co-founder Larry Page became CEO on April 4, 2011 $GOOG R&D expense has nearly doubled.
We know that Larry Page likes to go after big moonshot projects, and Google has been making a lot of high profile acquisitions lately in a very particular industry... Could they be related? We thought we would get some clarity by creating a DataFox Watchlist of companies that were acquired by Google with Larry Page at the helm.
At first, the list seemed like a mix of Google Apps and Android related purchases, with a couple of daily deals and stealth startups mixed in between. But the real clarity came when we exported the data to excel - took some notes - and sorted the companies by acquisition date in reverse chronological order. Of the 22 companies Google acquired in the past twelve-months - half are robotics related - 8 of which were acquired in the past 2 months!
On 13 March 2013 Android co-founder Andy Rubin moved from the Android division to take on new projects at Google. By December, Rubin became the head of Google's robotics division - the perfect candidate to make Larry Page's robot moonshot a reality.
There has been speculation over whether Android is called "Android" because it sounds like "Andy." Actually, Android is Andy Rubin — coworkers at Apple gave him the nickname back in 1989 because of his love for robots. Android.com was Rubin’s personal website until 2008.
Rubin has a lot of new toys to play with...
Boston Dynamics (Robot Special Forces)
Schaft (Robot Agility)
Industrial Perception (Robotic Arm) & Holomni (Robot Mobility)
Bot & Dolly (the Eyes) & DNNresearch (Image Recognition)
Behavio (Behavior Recognition)
Redwood Robotics (Humanoid Arm) & Meka Robotics (Humanoid Face)
DeepMind Technologies (the Brain)
Google may have missed skipped social, but they're bringing together a lot of highly talented teams that are working on:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Machine Learning
- Gesture Recognition
- Voice Recognition
- Image Recognition
- Predictive Behavior (thought recognition?)
It will be interesting to see if Andy Rubin can put all the pieces together. Although Google is not the only company that is interested in robotics...