Google keeps up their steady march toward becoming an empire. Sure, there’s the search engine, gmail, Google Street View, and Google Glass, but I’m not even talking about that stuff. I’m talking about the fact that the monolithic company uses deep learning, is developing AI, wants to cure death, and hired futurist and singularity guru Ray Kurzweil as their director of engineering. Now, they’ve done something else that adds to that already impressive and somewhat frightening list: they bought Boston Dynamics.
What’s the big deal? You might be wondering. The big deal is that Boston Dynamics sits atop the robotics industry when it comes to make a certain type of robot—the kind that could chase you down, knock you over, scare the living shit out of you, and then save your life. A group of MIT engineers founded the company in 1992, with the goal to focus on mobility and maneuverability to make robots able to navigate almost any terrain and perform a variety of practical functions. One example is the Wildcat, which could be used for disaster relief or military operations, or in bringing nightmares to fruition. The Wildcat, like many other Boston Dynamic robots, was funded by DARPA.
Boston Dynamics also developed the Cheetah Robot. At a running speed of over 28 miles per hour, Cheetah Robot will never lose a footrace, and thus, no one would dare mess with it. This bot is also DARPA-funded. Then there’s BigDog, which is the most terrifying robot this side of the spiderbot, especially when its tosses around cinder blocks like they’re tennis balls. Like all the other Boston Dynamics robots, BigDog’s movements are what make it most impressive—it throws like the other ones run, like it’s in the Olympics. The Army Research Lab picked up the tab on BigDog.
And let’s not forget ATLAS. They might have watched Cujo before making the other robots, but they definitely watched Terminator before making this one. ATLAS will compete in DARPA’s Robotics Challenge.
Now all of these robots—the Cheetah, WildCat, BigDog, ATLAS, and many more—they all belong to Google. In the past six months, Google has bought seven other robotics companies. Most of Boston Dynamic’s robots are funded by DARPA or otherwise funded by government sources, and while Google says it plans to honor existing military contracts, it won’t focus on military work. The company hasn’t been forthcoming about their plans for this robotic army they’re assembling, it’s clear that they’ve embraced yet another avenue toward control of the globe.