It was just at the beginning of the year that we reported how the US military cancelled the LS3 program. The LS3 program, also known as ‘big dog’ in the military, is a robot built in the shape of a dog. The plan was to use it as a metal beast of burden to help transport military equipment especially in rough terrain. The military said the robot was too noisy, making it unsuitable for operations where stealth is the key word.
At that time, Google spinned the cancellation off in a good way, letting the whole world know it was not really interested in working with the military anyway. According to Google, its long term design for Boston Dynamics was incompatible with what the military wanted.
But under the surface there was more trouble brewing for Boston Dynamics. It is just over two years since Google bought Boston Dynamics. At that time it seemed kind of strange that Google was interested in a company whose job was to build advanced machines for the US military.
According to the report from Bloomberg, there are several reasons that may have lead to this latest move. One reason had to do with the restructuring of Google that lead to the formation of Alphabet. Alphabet was created mostly to streamline of all Google’s operation to make them more profitable. Boston Dynamics on the other hand, did not show promise as far as making money for Alphabet was concerned.
Another problem with Boston Dynamics was how it was run. Though it was under Alphabet, Boston Dynamics acted rather differently from the other units at Google; the workers refusing to integrate with other workers at Google. Even when other advanced research divisions in Google were brought under Google X, now known as X, Boston Dynamics was left alone. The end result was that Google has decided to sell the company.
Another interesting report suggests that people at Google were scared of some of the robots being made at Boston Dynamics. A promotional video shown on the 23 of February on YouTube was said to be the catalyst of that fear. The video itself was made to highlight the awesome work being done by robotics firm.
The videos showed several prototypes robots moving with effortless ease in offices or outside in the snow. The conclusion by people outside Boston Dynamics was that the scary world of humanoid robots was already here with us. To be fair, imaginative movies and science fiction novels made these fear real in most people. It wasn’t Google’s fault those films and books were made. Watch one of the videos, that has already garnered over 14 million views, below.
So what next for Boston Dynamics? Google is said to be considering offers from Amazon and Toyota. There is no official confirmation that the two companies are interested in buying Boston Dynamics.
Google is yet to officially make a statement to verify or deny these reports.
photo credits: gizmodo.com; techcrunch.com