Think about it: Google has access to your thoughts, your daily movements and now even your home (see below). Is the company known for its colorful logo, office slides and goofy Vince Vaughn movie, really a sinister plot by co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to take over the world?
I am not a conspiracy guy, but recently Google has acquired a litter of robotic beasts from Boston Dynamics and now Nest labs for $3.2 billion. While other companies would be happy resting on their laurels, Google is preparing for the next industrial revolution: a robotic future. As CEO of GE Jeff Immelt has preached for a years, the next way of the Internet will be an industrial one. Well, Jeff, it looks like Brin is beating you to it.
As Shyam Patil, an astute Wall Street analyst observed in regards to the acquisition, “Home automation is one of the bigger opportunities when you talk about the Internet of everything and connecting everything. This acquisition furthers their strategy around that.”
When Page returned as Google CEO in 2011, he said the company’s mission was “to create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful for people that people use them twice a day, like you might use a toothbrush. There aren’t many things people use twice a day.”
Nest fits perfectly with that vision, as thermostats, smoke detectors and whatever other Internet-connected home appliances it was working on are interfacing with you everyday (even twice on hot or cold days).
Page further reminded key investors, “Google is not a search engine company. It is not an advertising company. It is a company trying to leverage its massive horde of cash and deep technological expertise to create products that billions of people will use some day. Smartphones. Self-driving cars. Robots that keep your house running.”
Wow. So Google will be everywhere—almost as infinitely as their name describes. How about the robots, will they need Google to communicate with each other?
Just like there is Google Earth for us, there is now “RoboEarth” for them, which is being developed by the students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands (see video). RoboEarth is a World Wide Web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment.
According to the website, “RoboEarth offers a Cloud Robotics infrastructure, which includes everything needed to close the loop from robot to the cloud and back to the robot. RoboEarth’s World-Wide-Web style database stores knowledge generated by humans—and robots—in a machine-readable format. Data stored in the RoboEarth knowledge base include software components, maps for navigation (e.g., object locations, world models), task knowledge (e.g., action recipes, manipulation strategies) and object recognition models (e.g., images, object models). RoboEarth offers components for a ROS compatible, robot-unspecific, high-level operating system as well as components for robot-specific, low level controllers accessible via a Hardware Abstraction Layer.”
On Jan. 16, the founders of RoboEarth showcased RoboEarth “through a demonstrator that includes four robots collaboratively working together to help patients in a hospital.” So every time the big Google Guerrilla gives you chills as it uses its “hordes of cash” to overtake another aspect of our lives, remember the robots have us covered, because one day they will be controlling the Net.
Image credit: CC by Robert Scoble