The man who oversaw the growth of Android to become one of the most used operating systems is now helping Google work towards filling the manufacturing and retail world with robots.
Former Android CEO and Google vice president Andy Rubin has been heading the project for at least six months. It appears he’s gone public now, in a New York Times interview, in an attempt to steal back some the attention that Amazon garnered by just so happening to choose “Cyber Monday” to unveil its apparent plans to use airborne delivery drones.
The Google project, which has involved buying out seven tech firms, is not based around consumers. Instead the idea seems to be to develop robot “solutions” for manufacturers, looking at all aspects of the supply chain. That could mean everything from assembly lines to packaging and distribution centers and even shipping firms.
Speaking to the Times, Rubin said the philosophy was to find more ways to use robots and other technology to carry out dull and repetitive tasks. Of course, that’s not much help if your job relies on such tasks, and robots don’t ask for the minimum wage.
Financial details of the project haven’t been made public. However, although there’s no guarantee anything will come of this, it does appear Google has made a more significant commitment to developing robots than it has to some of its other “moonshot” projects. It appears the plan is to work towards commercializing the technology much more quickly than is usually the case with Google’s more ambitious and experimental projects.
Although it’s clearly a hardware-driven project, Rubin did note that Google is working on software for robotics. That could make sense for a large corporation that wants to use robots throughout the supply chain and could have a single in-house team that could fix, upgrade and troubleshoot different models.
It’s also likely that supply chain management will be a big part of such software, with firms potentially being able to track everything from individual components waiting to be assembled, to packages on their way to customers, in the same system.
(Image credit: Yochiro Akiyama via Creative Commons license)