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Google buys walking robot maker

Posting in Technology
Google continues to build up its robotics effort.

The New York Times reports that the latest acquisition is Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has developed a collection of some of the most advanced robots around. Maybe you've seen BigDog, the four-legged robot that can walk, run, climb and carry heavy loads over rough terrain. (If you haven't, take a look.)
 
 
More recently, Boston Dynamics announced its WildCat prototype, a four-legged all-terrain robot that can gallop at 16 miles per hour on flat surfaces.

 
 

And, of course, there's the robot that's faster than the fastest human.

The robots aren't sold commercially. Instead, the company has been primarily contracted to build robots for the United States military.

So what does Google need with military-grade robots? It's not exactly clear, but in the past six months Google has acquired seven other robotics companies in a robotics project run by Google exec Andy Rubin, who facilitated the development of Android. According to the New York Times:

Mr. Rubin has called his robotics effort a “moonshot,” but has declined to describe specific products that might come from the project. He has, however, also said that he does not expect initial product development to go on for years, indicating that Google commercial robots of some nature could be available in the next several years.
But it probably isn't the WildCat or BigDog that Google wants to add to robotics collection, it's access to Boston Dynamics' advanced sensor technology.  

Read more: New York Times 

Photo: Boston Dynamics

— By on December 16, 2013, 8:40 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure