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Google Buys Pentagon’s Robotics Lab

by Mike Hoffman on December 16, 2013

Big DogGoogle has acquired the robotics company that the Pentagon typically leans on to develop next generation robots doing everything from carrying troops’ gear to searching for IEDs.

Google purchased Boston Dynamics as part of its larger strategy to invest in robotics development. The engineer in charge of developing Android for Google, Andy Rubin, will lead this initiative.

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — better known as DARPA — recognized the cutting edge work being done at Boston Dynamics early and has awarded multiple development contracts to the company. Boston Dynamics is working on high profile projects for the military such as the Big Dog, which is now officially named the Legged Squad Support System (LS3)  by the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is working with DARPA and Boston Dynamics engineers to develop the Big Dog to lighten the load for Marines and soldiers. The Big Dog is designed to traverse technical terrain while carrying 400 pounds of gear.

Google officials have said the company will still honor the remaining contracts that Boston Dynamics has with DARPA, but it seems evident that DARPA may have to find a new laboratory to develop their next robotics projects.

Of course, Google’s acquisition could be seen as a boon for military robotics based on the deep pockets Google has and the type of investments into development they plan to make.

Many of the robots that DARPA wants to develop are not specific military robots. The Big Dog is an example. If Google can develop legged robots quicker with more funding, then Marines and soldiers benefit faster potentially.

Notably, Google doesn’t have to worry about sequestration or Congressional budgets. It can use it’s large capital reserve to sink in the money necessary to advance robotics at a rapid pace.

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