In a Wall Street Journal story by Lorraine Luk, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou met with Google Robotics Division Andy Rubin in Taipei recently and they discussed new robotic technologies. Gou was excited by new automation technologies demonstrated by Rubin. Rubin asked Gou to help integrate the robotic companies that Google acquired to target the areas of manufacturing and electronics assembly that Google plans for their future.
Foxconn and Google are calling this collaboration (which has been going on since last year) a “cooperation.” The Wall Street Journal said that the cooperation was focused on improving robotic automation to compete with companies like Amazon in retailing.
“Foxconn needs Google’s help to step up automation at its factories as the company has the lowest sales per employee among the contract makers, given its large workforce,” said Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Securities. “Using robots to replace human workers would be the next big thing in the technology industry. Not just Google, other major technology companies such as Microsoft and Amazon also have been developing robotics technology to capture future growth opportunities.”
Foxconn has sent some engineers to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to learn the latest manufacturing and automation technology. The company has been branching out from just being a contract manufacturer by selling various mobile accessories it has manufactured. Last August, Google purchased a number of display-related patents from Foxconn including head-mounted technology enabling superimposing of images a la Google Glass. Although the patent purchase was likely a safeguarding step to beef up Google’s patent portfolio as they near coming to market with Google Glass, it was also the beginning of a relationship between the two companies. And early 2013, Foxconn launced their new robotics research facility in Taiwan.
Source: Factory picture by Techspot.com; facetious after image by Tommytoy.typepad.com