AH Tech Talk: Alphabet's Collection Of Robots Is Quite Amazing


Google is well-known for dabbling in bleeding edge technology. Now that it is a part of a parent company, Alphabet, companies falling out of the scope of the company's core search and ad business has a lot more flexibility, acting as independent branches under Google. Moonshot projects and autonomous cars would be the prime example. Now reports suggest that Google is about to create a separate department for robotics under Alphabet. Even though this move was expected, since the robotics companies already work in a separate department under Google named Google X, it is indeed a welcome change. Google has always been interested in robotics, and the acquisition of Boston Dynamics only to serves to prove this. For the uninitiated, Boston Dynamics is a well-known engineering and robotics design company from, well, Boston.

But the spotlight today is on Google's or now Alphabet's new robotics branch, highlighting the incredible range of robots and technology developed by Google - from robots capable of moving at high speeds, to ones that could create special effects. One of the coolest robots under Google is Boston Dynamic's Cheetah Robot, allegedly faster than word record holder Usain Bolt. The Cheetah Robot is the fastest in the world, going up to a blazing 46 kilometers an hour. The only downside to the Cheetah Robot is that it cannot run untethered. The Wild Cat Robot is another robot developed by the same company that has been designed to work on all kinds of terrains, and can get as high as 26 km/h on flat land. The WildCat is touted as the second generation after Cheetah Robot. The Spot is a robotic dog created to assist Marines, by scouting and sensing danger. It is controlled by a controller attached to a laptop, and the range is about 500 meters.

Google also acquired Titan Aerospace, a company building solar-powered drones. These drones are developed to be in the air for years on end without a halt, thanks to the solar cells equipped on the drones. The Titan Aerospace Solara 50 has 3,000 solar cells equipped on a wingspan of 150 feet and can stay in the air for over five years. These drones are used by Google to snap aerial photos and beam the internet to parts of the world not connected yet through Project Loon. Bot and Dolly design and engineering studio created a seven-axis motion-controlled robot called Iris to simulate weightlessness in the movie Gravity. This robot moved around actress Sandra Bullock in a programmed way to reproduce sequences of spacecraft interior, and a spacesuit flying towards the Earth. This studio was acquired by Google in 2013 and was integrated with Google X.

A Japanese company born out of Tokyo by the name of SCHAFT was also bought by Google after it cleared the DARPA robotics challenge in 2013. The robot was a bipedal, capable of performing complicated and intricate movements, and navigating through complexities like climbing ladders or walking over a difficult, uneven terrain. YASKAWA Motoman Robot is another less glamorous robot that boasts of human-like perception allowing it to perform tedious industrial tasks, like unloading trucks. It can be programmed to differentiate between different objects in various angles. Meka, a company famous for developing robots meant to interact and work with humans, is also owned by Google. Meka is a joint venture between Redwood Robotics, and SRI, an artificial intelligence lab. One of their most famous creations is The Dreamer, purposefully designed to be super cute and have expressive eyes inspired by puppies and anime. It has been conceived as a mechatronic device to show focus and evoke trustworthy feelings without seeming intimidating and artificial. Another humanoid robot is the Meka M1 Mobile Manipulator, with two dexterous arms enabling it mirror movements of a human. The movements are so fluid and life-life that they are almost not differentiable from that of a human. The Meka M1 can lift up to three pounds, and moves on four wheels.

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About the Author

Debarshi Nayak

Intern Writer
Tech addict, artist and musician. If you don't find him typing away at his desktop which he fondly calls Venus, he's probably out looking for constellations or being a book worm. Occasional DOTA 2 player. He has an avid interest for any sort of work of literature. And watches anime in his free time. Owns a Galaxy Note 3, and a One Plus One