WSJ: Google and Foxconn partnering up, Google preparing robotics OS

by: Andrew GrushFebruary 11, 2014

Meka M1 Mobile Manipulator - YouTube 43 001148

Last year Google started buying up several robotic companies including big names like Redwood Robotics, Boston Dynamics and Industrial Perception. Shortly after this, Andy Rubin stepped down from his role as Android chief to focus on Google’s plans for robotics. 

At the time Rubin said that Google’s immediate goals for robotics didn’t directly focus on everyday consumers, with manufacturing and logistic sectors listed as the primary target of their efforts. According to new report from WSJ, Rubin and team are now teaming up with Foxconn to bring their robotics technologies to the manufacturing sector.

Foxconn is probably best known for its involvement with Apple’s iPhone and iPad products, but the manufacturer also is involved in the assembly of quite a few other types of electronics such as game systems and Android devices. The company is also very interested in using robotics to replace some of its traditional workers in an effort to cut costs and reduce some of the issues (like rioting) it has faced when it comes to dealing with its factory employees.

A new Google-powered robotics OS could open the door to more advanced forms of factory automation.

The idea of Foxconn and Google working together certainly makes sense. Google has the know-how to dramatically advance Foxconn’s automation efforts and Foxconn’s massive factory presence provides a perfect test bed for Google.

So what exactly are the two companies cooking up? Citing people familiar with the matter, WSJ says that Google is now in the process of building a robotics operating system for manufacturers.

A new Google-powered robotics OS could open the door to more advanced forms of factory automation. Such an OS could potentially affect other robotic efforts outside of manufacturing down the road. Not much was revealed about the OS, though it seems fitting that Rubin is once again returning to the operating system game.

Last year it was revealed that Google had ported ROS (robot operating system) to Java so that Android and ROS could communicate together, so perhaps this OS effort has something to do with that? Only time will tell for sure. Bottom-line, Google and Foxconn’s efforts could prove to a big step forward for robotics in general and might mean that our future smartphones may soon be manufactured completely by robotic workers.

What do you think, are you excited to see Google pushing forward with robotics? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

  • Shark Bait

    Well if any one is going to crack it I think it would be Google!

  • asdf

    wait so theyre not using the OS named after robots for robots…

  • Ulises

    So, if machines take over all human activity, including art and science, what will happen to the organic body and its conditioned-to-work-and-think brain? Surely, will it decay? Certainly, is mankind-machines coexistence possible while people are fighting for jobs and resources: competition, nations, and so on? Anyway, what is the endeavour in which a robot cannot take part or channel at all? Why won’t the future automatons be alive? What is the fundamental difference between a mechanical structure, organic or inorganic, that imitates life and life itself? Is there any, virtual or real? If it said that there is a difference, is it just some kind of authority who defines and differentiates? Perhaps then, someday, will be a powerful automaton the one who will define life, its unique life, truth itself? Is the human-like living robot the demand of a hard and terrible future? Along these lines, there is a peculiar book, take a look in a sample in Just another freethinking suggestion, far away from dogmas or axioms

  • Nathan Powell

    I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords…

  • Bryan Z

    This looks pretty ambitious also kind of dumb so this is either going to be really awesome or really bad…

  • Brendon Brown

    Great, now even more companies are gonna fire even more people… Has its Pros and Cons I guess.