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Google selling Boston Dynamics, its creepy robot division

by Jacob Kleinman | March 18, 2016March 18, 2016 6:36 am PST

Google plans to sell Boston Dynamics, the robotics firm it acquired in 2013. The company rose to fame after releasing several videos showing its impressive and intimidating robots in action but failed to produce an actual product that could make money for the tech giant.

Toyota and Amazon are both apparently interested in picking up Boston Dynamics, Bloomberg said this week. Amazon could potentially use the technology at its fulfillment centers, which currently use a mix of robots and humans to fill orders. However, none of the companies involved were willing to comment when approached by Bloomberg.

It’s unclear exactly what went wrong between Boston Dynamics and Google, but it sounds like the smaller firm wasn’t willing to open itself up to the rest of the company. Google execs reportedly argued that the robotics firm wasn’t even close to developing a marketable product, and while its research generated plenty of press, it wasn’t always positive attention.

Boston Dynamics is just one of many robot-focused companies quickly acquired by Google after Android creator Andy Rubin was put in charge of the new division. A year later Rubin left Google, leaving the robotics project without a clear leader.

Selling off Boston Dynamics marks a big step back in Google’s originally ambitious plans. As for the rest of the robotics companies it acquired, they’ve been folded into Google X, and those engineers may end up working on unrelated projects in the future.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...