Big deals: What it means to have the giants investing in robotics
If the world outside the robotics community didn’t know about Boston Dynamics, Kiva and Nest, they do now. Recent robotics acquisitions and investments by major-league players like Google, Apple and Amazon have generated a blitz of headlines in the robotics world and beyond. Are we witnessing a power play in the making? What does it mean for the future of robotics? And is all the hype beneficial or harmful to the robotics community?
This month’s Robotics by Invitation will serve as a launch for Robohub’s newest focus series on how big time corporate attention effects the culture of robotics. In the coming weeks we will be bringing you insight from the likes of Steve Cousins, Dan Kara, Valery Komissarova, Avner Levin, Chad Partridge, Gill Pratt, Erin Rapacki, Frank Tobe, and Rob Wilson.
Judging by the levels of media coverage and frenzied speculation that has followed each acquisition, the short answer to what does it mean is: endless press exposure. I almost wrote ‘priceless exposure’ but then these are companies with very deep pockets; nevertheless the advertising value equivalent must be very high indeed. The coverage really illustrates the fact that these companies have achieved celebrity status …
Google, is the wild card for me. With more acquisitions than Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft combined, the GOOG looks to be rigging up a kit that would offer excellent image recognition + navigation + mobility. A robot that can roam around your home or maybe your city, and offer a helpful service. My bet is that these Googlebots (perhaps they will be cars) will have sharp eyes, simple yet helpful demeanors, and we’ll trade that robotic service for our personal info …
It’s exciting for the robotics community that the giants (Google, Apple, and Amazon) are actively investing in robotics. Large scale investments by giant corporations, regardless of what their actual plans are, can have a positive impact on the job market for roboticists, increase competition between the giants and push robotics forward. But I began to feel uneasy when Google acquired Boston Dynamics …
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