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In Brief: Google Acquires Boston Dynamics

By Norman Chan

The makers of BigDog, WildCat, Cheetah, and other Transformer Maximals.

This came as a pretty big surprise last Friday night. The New York Times revealed that Google had acquired robotics company Boston Dynamics, the makers of experimental robots that have walked, galloped, and sprinted far beyond the mechanical capabilities of what we've come to see from other research robots (sorry, Asimo). You've probably seen their awesome and just-a-little-terrifying YouTube videos. This acquisition looks to be one of the seven companies that Google bought up as part of its new efforts to create "the next generation of robots", a project led by Android (the smartphone OS) creator Andy Rubin. The Times' earlier report indicated that Google's interest in robotics was to improve industrial manufacturing capabilities like electronics assembly, though Boston Dynamics' expertise has so far been in creating mechanical platforms for military and field use (it has numerous DARPA contracts). Google has said that it will honor those existing military contracts, but had no current plans to become a military contractor on its own.