Boston Dynamics became the eighth robotics company to be purchased by Google within the past 6 or so months. The maker of extraordinary machines, including the “BigDog”, has a reputation for producing robots that mimic creatures from the animal kingdom. The deal is another signal that Google is intent on building game-changing classes of autonomous systems that could feasibly do anything from factory laboring to policing.
Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, a former professor from MIT. It has developed its robots nearly exclusively to the military, and DARPA in particular. The company’s “walking robots” are able to traverse tough terrain and retain their balance. BigDog is one of the most famous of these creations, and began in 2003 in partnership with British robot maker Foster-Miller, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Harvard. Recently, it’s “WildCat” was able to sprint at over 28mph.
Google said it would honor Boston Dynamic’s existing contracts. This includes supplying DARPA with humanoid robots, as part of their two-million dollars Darpa Robotics Challenge. “The contest’s goal is creating a class of robots that can operate in natural disasters and catastrophes like the nuclear power plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan.”
My bet is that Google will attempt to fuse advanced artificial intelligence with sophisticated robots, to produce autonomous technological systems. With massive financial resources under its belt, the Google will no doubt be able to create a range of robots that will expel humans from the workplace, the battlefield, and…who knows? Just don’t be evil.