Why Is Google Acquiring an Army of Robots?

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On Friday, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) confirmed that it had completed its acquisition of Boston Dynamics — an engineering company that had previously designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The acquisition of Boston Dynamics is the eighth robotics company acquired by the Internet giant in the past year alone, leading to speculation as to what Google’s overarching goal is when it comes to robotics.

Of the robotics companies acquired by Google, Boston Dynamics is certain to garner significant attention, as the company’s animal-styled robots have earned it an international reputation as well as viral Internet fame. The company’s robots, which include BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat, and Atlas, have received widespread attention for their uncanny ability to mimic animal movement and react in real-time to balance.

But, the question of what Google plans to do with its legion of robots and robotic firms is still not clear. In the short term, the New York Times points out that the acquisition of Boston Dynamics is sure to bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, currently led by Andy Rubin. In the long term, Google’s foray into robotics could extend to a wide range of capacities. According to the NY Times, warehouse work, elder care, and package delivery are just three of the many applications that may be explored in the coming years. Given Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) recent demonstrations of delivery drones, the idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.

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