Google may be gearing up to build robots that resemble props in science-fiction movies as the company expands into yet another technological frontier.
To gather the expertise and research it needs, Google has purchased eight companies that specialize in robotics this year. The acquisitions are being assembled into a new robotics division headed by Andy Rubin, who oversaw Google's development of Android.
Google added more pieces to its growing toolbox of robotics late last week with the purchase of Boston Dynamics, a military contractor that has raised intrigue by releasing videos of its inventions in recent years. Those inventions include a four-legged robot capable of galloping past Olympian sprinters and a jumping contraption that can leap onto tall buildings.
Besides designing animal-like robots, Boston Dynamics also has been working on humanoids as part of a $10.8 million contract with the U.S. government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
Google confirmed the Boston Dynamics purchase on Monday but declined to reveal any other information, including the sales price.
There has been speculation in the media that Google hopes to build robots that would automate manufacturing and distribution center jobs currently handled by humans. Other possibilities include housekeeping robots or automated caretakers for the elderly.
Google has said only that it considers its robotics division to be a "moonshot." The Mountain View, Calif., company applies that description to high-risk projects that have little to do with its main business of Internet search and online advertising. These gambles also typically take years to pay off, to the chagrin of investors who prefer that the company curb its spending on far- flung ventures and focus on its main areas of expertise.
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Original headline: Google extends its robotics reach with latest acquisition
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