In December 2013, Google announced plans to acquire Boston Dynamics, creator of robots such as the four-legged BigDog and Cheetah.
Following that acquisition, tech pros and pundits opined freely that Boston Dynamics, fueled by Google’s enormous financial resources, would unlock a new era of “real world” robotics. Andy Rubin, the high-ranking Google executive responsible for the development of the Android operating system, oversaw the new subsidiary.
A little over two years later, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, intends to sell off Boston Dynamics to the highest bidder. Never mind that the company’s teams just created a two-legged robot capable of picking itself up after someone knocks it over—corporate concerns have apparently triumphed over Google’s longtime plans to unleash the rise of Skynet.
According to Bloomberg Business, Alphabet wants to sell Boston Dynamics in order to ensure that all its subsidiaries are revenue-generating; although the robotics firm has produced some incredible advances over the past few years, it’s nowhere near creating something that can be sold at a mass scale.
Amazon and Toyota are reportedly among the companies that may make a bid for Boston Dynamics. Even after it sells the subsidiary, Alphabet will likely remain in the robot business; the tech giant employs several robotics engineers around the world, many of whom are likely working on “Moonshot” projects such as self-driving cars.
Nor does the sale of Boston Dynamics bode poorly for the robotics industry as a whole. Automation, analytics, and robots are all widely expected to have a profound impact on technology, the broader economy, and jobs.