When Andy Rubin said he is stepping down from being the leadership position at the Android division of Google, it took everyone by surprise, considering he's the founder of Android, and if he's quitting then he must have a very good reason for doing so, unless Google was trying to replace him on purpose with someone else.
The truth is we'll probably never know whether Andy Rubin wanted to quit himself, or if Google influenced his decision, too, but we do know Andy Rubin has always been passionate about making robots, and it seems Google is letting him work on that now. According to new information in New York Times, Andy Rubin is working on building robots at Google, now – robots that could one day replace a lot of the physical labor people have to do now. Google seems to be targeting this project at at companies, rather than consumers.
"The opportunity is massive," said Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at the M.I.T. Center for Digital Business. "There are still people who walk around in factories and pick things up in distribution centers and work in the back rooms of grocery stores."
Google is already working on self-driving cars, so it seems automation through robots/AI is of big importance to them, because they know that's going to be the future, and that robots will start replacing a lot of physical jobs that are very repetitive and low-paying already. This could bring "manufacturing" back to US, too, but not necessarily "manufacturing jobs". However, it's important to note that when technical revolutions like these happen, economies tend to grow, and there are a lot of other new type of jobs coming up, as the old ones become obsolete.
Andy Rubin, especially, seems to be very excited about this:
"I have a history of making my hobbies into a career," Mr. Rubin said in a telephone interview. "This is the world's greatest job. Being an engineer and a tinkerer, you start thinking about what you would want to build for yourself."
The whole leadership crew at Google seem to be thinking at projects that will become huge 10 years into the future, and they want to start the work for it now, because they think it will pay off big time, and the millions or hundreds of millions they put in research right now will be well spent. That being said, I think we'll see these robots as "products" being offered by Google a lot sooner. Companies like Foxconn have already started replacing some of its workforce with robots, and I believe there will be a lot more companies wanting such robots soon.