Who would win in a fight between Amazon’s drones and Google robots? That’s something we may have an answer to in a few years.
Following Amazon’s reveal of its new shipping drone project, Google has finally dished some details to the New York Times on its next “moonshot” project: humanoid robots, spearheaded by Android founder Andy Rubin.
After stepping down from his role leading Android earlier this year, there was plenty of speculation about what Rubin was working on at Google — but not many people guessed that Google was actively working on advanced robots.
Don’t expect a robot butler anytime soon, though. The NYT notes that Google’s robots are intended to work in manufacturing and online retail. Robots could replace some of the monotonous work in building devices, or eventually even deliver packages right to your door, for example.
“Like any moonshot, you have to think of time as a factor,” Rubin told the NYT. “We need enough runway and a 10-year vision.”
The timing of this announcement clearly aims to take some of the limelight away from Amazon, which announced its Amazon Prime Air drone project on Sunday night. While undoubtedly cool, many have questioned Amazon’s ability to deliver on its promise of robot deliveries. Advanced humanoid robots, on the other hand, have the potential to be more useful than small drones.
While Google isn’t revealing how much it’s spending on the robot research, the company has covertly snapped up several startups in the field, including Japanese robotics company Schaft, Redwood Robotics, 3D vision company Industrial Perception, and Bot & Dolly (which built the robots that helped film Gravity). Google has also acquired Meka Robotics, advertising and design firm Autofuss, and advanced wheel design firm Holomni.
As Rubin explains it, Google hopes to release robotics products soon. It sounds like we could see Google’s robots before its self-driving car technology is readily available to consumers.