Android co-founder Andy Rubin, the same man who fueled the mobile platform to become a worldwide standard, is leaving Google to start his own incubator for technology hardware startups.
Google CEO Larry Page confirmed Rubin's departure.
"I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next," says Page. "With Android he created something truly remarkable -- with a billion-plus happy users. Thank you."
In 2005, Google saved Android from near financial disaster when it acquired the startup for an undisclosed price. But Rubin, who was in charge of Android up until earlier this year when rising star Sundar Pichai took over the helm of the Android team, has had little to do with Android in recent months.
Rubin's dominion was over Google's nascent robotics business, which has been snatching up several robotics startups in recent months. One of Google's most high-profile acquisitions overseen by Rubin is that of the military contractor Boston Dynamics, a company best known for BigDog, a four-legged robot funded by the U.S. Army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The robot can run at 4 mph, climb 35-degree slopes and carry heavy loads up to 155 kilograms, about 342 pounds.
However, Rubin is not exactly known for revealing the little bits and pieces of his plans or the progress of Google's robotics efforts. Since he began taking charge of the company's robotics acquisitions in late 2013, not much has been known about what Google intends to do with BigDog or the humanoid Atlas, which was also developed by Boston Dynamics in conjunction with the Department of Defense. At one point, even the Android team he headed kept itself apart from the other teams at Google.
The lack of information about what Google plans to do with its human-like and bestial robots makes it difficult to determine if Rubin's departure is a big loss to Google, although some, such as Mashable's Lance Ulanoff, believe that Rubin's silence only signifies that not much has been done during the short time he was at the helm of Google's robotic team.
With Rubin no longer part of Google, research scientist James Kuffner, who has 20 years of experience working on humanoid robots and was on the team working on Google's self-driving cars, will be taking over Rubin's position. Pichai, on the other hand, will continue to take charge of Android, Chrome and Google Apps along with six other Google divisions, including the research department into which robotics falls.
A former colleague of Rubin's speaking to Business Insider says Rubin's departure came as a surprise since he is passionate about robots and his position at Google fit him perfectly. Still, Rubin's desire to create a startup accelerator also sits well with his love for starting things.
"He's an entrepreneur. He likes to think fast and innovate," one source said at the time Pichai took the Android reins from Rubin. "I think that at some point, Android got so big it's not necessarily that same challenge. And I think he still wants to have some more challenges and make some more great things happen."