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Google acquires robotic experts Boston Dynamics

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Bipedal humanoid robot "Atlas", primarily developed by the American robotics company Boston Dynamics, is presented to the media during a news conference at the University of Hong Kong October 17, 2013. Google recently acquired the company. (Reuters)

Google has bought robotic engineering company Boston Dynamics as it pushes further into the field of physical real-world robots. Next-generation robotics is a key part of Google’s long-term plans, and the division is being led by Andy Rubin, who stepped down as the head of Android in March.

Some of the most impressive and innovative creations produced by Boston Dynamics have appeared on Digital Trends in the past: the humanoid robot PETMAN, a speedy four-legged cheetah, and the all-terrain BigDog, which can make its way through remote and hostile environments as well as throw cinderblocks, should the need arise.

Google’s latest deal in a busy year of acquisitions was reported by The New York Times and tweeted by Rubin himself. As yet there are no details of the price Google paid or how Boston Dynamics will fit into the larger company, but Google has said that existing contracts are going to be honored — these deals include a $10.8 million contract with the US Defense Agency Research Projects Agency (DARPA). According to the Times, Google executives said the company “did not plan to move toward becoming a military contractor on its own.”

Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Marc Raibert, and the company has worked with the likes of Sony and the CIA over the last 20 years. Dr Raibert told the Times: “I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big,with the resources to make it happen.”

Google has picked up several smaller companies specializing in robotic technology over the last six months, and while Rubin is tight-lipped over specific projects and products, the tech giant seems heavily invested in the next wave of intelligent robotics. It’s not alone, either — Amazon’s Jeff Bezos recently announced plans to deliver its goods via airborne drones.

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