Alphabet Plans To Sell Humanoid Robot Maker Boston Dynamics: Here's Why
Google's parent company Alphabet wants to sell Boston Dynamics, the firm's robotics division, because it doesn't seem likely to generate solid revenue.
According to Bloomberg, the executives over at Alphabet believe that the subsidiary in question won't be able to bring a marketable product to the table in the next few years, deciding that it should be sold instead, not to mention that they reportedly think that it's difficult to work with.
So far, the potential buyers include the Toyota division Toyota Research Institute and Amazon. It should be noted that the retailer already has Amazon Robotics under the corporate umbrella, a branch that came to be after it acquired Kiva Systems for $775 million back in March 2012.
Amazon did not respond to requests for comment, and both Google and Toyota refused to comment.
Back in 2013, Google acquired Boston Dynamics as part of the company's efforts in stepping in the field of robotics, where the goal was to assemble a team of engineers and have it work with the startup. Dubbed Replicant, the project had the task of developing low-cost robots for the consumer market, but it didn't pan out because of leadership changes, difficulties in cooperation between the companies and the absence of a suitable leader who can take helm of the venture.
The issues came to light when private exchanges via email and meeting notes were posted on an online forum that the Google workforce could easily access. An unidentified Google employee, who's unlikely to be part of the Replicant project or Boston Dynamics, then sent the documents to Bloomberg, making the heated tension among the now-Alphabet companies more widespread.
There was a mix of anxiety and excitement in the hearts of many viewers when Boston Dynamics uploaded a clip of Atlas a month ago, and it appears that the executives at Google X share a similar sentiment.
"There's excitement from the tech press, but we're also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans' jobs. We don't want to trigger a whole separate media cycle about where BD really is at Google. We're not going to comment on this video because there's really not a lot we can add, and we don't want to answer most of the Qs it triggers," Courtney Hohne, Google's director of communications and spokesperson for Google X, wrote in the supposedly private email that Bloomberg got ahold of, asking her colleagues to "distance X" from the Boston Dynamics video.
Google Robotics Director Aaron Edsinger tried to work with Boston Dynamics to produce the affordable robots that the company envisions, but he said that there was a "bit of a brick wall" surrounding the subsidiary.
Now, the Replicant program was terminated back in December, and the robotics engineers at Google are now focused on Google X projects instead. As for the Boston Dynamics engineers, they are still in a limbo of sorts, waiting for a new chief to take the reins as Alphabet puts their unit up for sale.
Watch the video below to remember how Atlas awed the public with its capability of maintaining balance, lifting objects and some other human-like talents.