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Engineering Materials

Google Buys Boston Dynamics: Is That a Good Thing?

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Steward Hudson
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Terminator
Steward Hudson   1/22/2014 9:58:42 AM
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Sounds like Terminator

TJ McDermott
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Commercializing the armed forces
TJ McDermott   1/22/2014 1:02:25 PM
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NASA jobs out manned rocket flights to Russa, and will soon do so to various domestic commercial companies.

The state department uses private contractors for overseas security.

Maybe the Air Force will contract Amazon and its future airborne drone delivery system for commercial bomb delivery.

And maybe the Army will contract with Google for its mechanized and armor assault forces.

The Designist
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Re: Commercializing the armed forces
The Designist   1/23/2014 9:37:37 AM
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Or perhaps the military will contract with google to search for terrorists.  :)

GTOlover
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Re: Commercializing the armed forces
GTOlover   1/23/2014 9:45:54 AM
Or perhaps liberal politicians will contract with Google to search for liberty loving tea party patriots. :-)

bdcst
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Going Postal
bdcst   1/23/2014 10:24:01 AM
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Google may have plans to offer a replacement for letter carriers, robots that won't go postal.  That might save, in one fell swoop, the USPS and Saturday mail delivery and also eliminate further growth of their mandated retirement fund.  Robots don't require pensions when they retire, or do they?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Commercializing the armed forces
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2014 11:51:28 AM
GTOlover, funny I was thinking just the opposite.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Commercializing the armed forces
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2014 11:52:09 AM
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Thanks for the input, TJ. That's quite a trend, isn't it?

JimRW
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Re: Going Postal
JimRW   1/23/2014 12:32:00 PM
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I would guess the likely reason is there is something in Boston Dynamics' code that google is interested in. Balancing on legs while moving takes a lot of processing and Boston may have a more efficient means of doing that with minimum computing power.

It could also be that they have so much money they can afford to own something just for the "cool factor" of it.

I'll worry more when the Google company motto is no longer "don't be evil".

jcbond_mi
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Google Buying Boston Dynamics
jcbond_mi   1/23/2014 2:08:57 PM
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Here's what I think, based on Google's (and others) activities:

A huge market is in-vehicle info-tainment systems.  The Automotives, by and large, all have crappy systems, although some people except On-Star.  The future of in-vehicle info-tainment is going to be plugging in your phone (wirelessly, of course) and making use of its applications, bandwidth, and constant updates.  The Automotives will just supply the cradles: large screens, easy connectivity, standardized safety interlocking for distracted driving.

The problem for Google is that they are late to the game and well behind others, like Microsoft and Apple.  Google doesn't want to be just a me-too company, so they are looking for an advantage.  And that is why they started their autonomous vehicle program:  They want to define the future for vehicles.

A fully autonomous vehicle is a difficult prospect.  It's easy to use robots when decision making is limited;  but the driver of a car needs to be able to evaluate multiple information streams and make decisions quickly, especially in an emergency situation.  So certainly, Google would be interested in autonomous robots.  They would be especially interested in autonomous robots like Big Dog, which can climb uneven and varying terrain, AND react to unexpected events, like a tremendous shove(very impressive).  I would also expect Google to be interested in partnering with DARPA and companies like Lockheed, who are working to develop pilot-less fighter jets.

In other words, I think it's long term move that makes commercial sense.  There's also the potential side benefit of unexpected synergies that can take off in a totally new direction.

- Joe

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Going Postal
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2014 2:14:29 PM
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Good point about code, JimRW. That's certainly part of how BD managed to get more animal-like movements in its bots.
Google has shown it doesn't operate by its own motto in several different ways. That's one of the reasons it reminds me of Massive Dynamic. Some cynics would say that's why it adopted that motto in the first place.

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