Google acquires robotic experts Boston Dynamics

google acquires robotic experts boston dynamics robots

Google has bought robotic engineering company Boston Dynamics as it pushes further into the field of physical real-world robots. Next-generation robotics is a key part of Google’s long-term plans, and the division is being led by Andy Rubin, who stepped down as the head of Android in March.

Some of the most impressive and innovative creations produced by Boston Dynamics have appeared on Digital Trends in the past: the humanoid robot PETMAN, a speedy four-legged cheetah, and the all-terrain BigDog, which can make its way through remote and hostile environments as well as throw cinderblocks, should the need arise.

Google’s latest deal in a busy year of acquisitions was reported by The New York Times and tweeted by Rubin himself. As yet there are no details of the price Google paid or how Boston Dynamics will fit into the larger company, but Google has said that existing contracts are going to be honored — these deals include a $10.8 million contract with the US Defense Agency Research Projects Agency (DARPA). According to the Times, Google executives said the company “did not plan to move toward becoming a military contractor on its own.”

Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Marc Raibert, and the company has worked with the likes of Sony and the CIA over the last 20 years. Dr Raibert told the Times: “I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big,with the resources to make it happen.”

Google has picked up several smaller companies specializing in robotic technology over the last six months, and while Rubin is tight-lipped over specific projects and products, the tech giant seems heavily invested in the next wave of intelligent robotics. It’s not alone, either — Amazon’s Jeff Bezos recently announced plans to deliver its goods via airborne drones.

Smart Home

Forget the fecal matter forever and let this toilet-scrubbing robot take over

Vacuum cleaning robots are dandy, but how much would you pay for a robot that cleanstoilets? Altan Robotech is betting that people will shell out $500 for its Giddell Toilet Cleaning Robot, which goes on sale today at Amazon and New Egg.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army could acquire a fleet of 3,000 bomb-defusing scorpion robots

The U.S. Army may be on its way to acquiring a fleet of battlefield-ready scorpion robots. The robots are small enough to be carried in a backpack and can be powered up in less than a minute.
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!