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

February 11, 2014
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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!

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