Google and Robots: What’s the Plan?

In case you haven’t been keeping track, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has been acquiring some very interesting companies lately. Just this week Google announced its purchase of Titan Aerospace, maker of solar-powered drones.
With robotics, drones and the future of the internet involved, Google’s strategy is becoming clearer and clearer with every acquisition.
So what is Google up to?
Let’s take a look at Google’s acquisitions.

Google and Robotics

Over the course of nine days in December 2013 Google bought seven robotics companies. I can only assume that these deals were strategically timed to prevent the target companies from demanding higher prices partway through Google’s shopping spree for robotics.
These companies are engaged in humanlike robots, robotic arms, computerized vision, robotic wheels and much more.
Perhaps the most high profile of these companies is Boston Dynamics, best known for the BigDog robot it developed for the U.S. military.
This fleet of robots could likely be programmed to fulfill any kind of manual work or be used in environments that are too dangerous for humans. One such use could be in radioactive environments like that of the nuclear reactor in Fukushima, Japan that was damaged in 2011.
The spree of robotics acquisitions makes a bit more sense in the context of its $650 million acquisition of DeepMind Technologies. The company is a leader in artificial intelligence with technology that can enable robots to act autonomously and even “learn” in response to their environment.

Connected Devices

Google made major headlines in January when it announced a $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, a leader in home automation.
The concept is rather simple. What if everything in your life was connected to the internet? Thermostats, door locks, lights, even your kitchen appliances. How incredible would it be to start dinner from your smartphone before leaving the office?
This is “the internet of things,” and it is the next major stage for the internet.


In its latest move, Google acquired Titan Aerospace. The company produces solar powered drones that are capable of flying for as long as five years at a time. Coupled with the artificial intelligence technology Google acquired, these drones could potentially operate autonomously while serving a number of functions.
For starters, these drones will be incredibly useful to Google Maps and Google Earth.
But Google has much more important functions in mind for its new fleet of drones.
Google saw 187 million unique desktop views in February. That’s huge. The problem is that there were only 222 million total views. Google is literally running out of internet users.
That’s where Project Loon comes in, an initiative to blanket rural, remote and developing areas with internet coverage using a connected fleet of weather balloons.
While the acquisition of a drone company doesn’t mean the weather balloon idea is dead, it does suggest that these drones will have a major role in making ubiquitous internet coverage a reality.
In fact, I think these drones will have a major role in bringing internet coverage to the remaining 4.6 billion people who don’t currently have access to the internet.

Google and Robots: The Bottom Line

Drones to bring internet coverage to the entire world, connected devices and robots to make our lives easier and computers that learn our needs and patterns to facilitate “the internet of things.”
By acquiring leaders in all of the industries required to piece together the future envisioned by top brass, Google is shaping its next great phase of growth and the next stage for the internet itself.
So what is Google up to? Only time will tell, of course. But the future is bright and Google is clearly the shining star.

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