Google acquires Boston Dynamics

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Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, the MIT spin-out responsible for robots such as the Big Dog quadraped and Cheetah, the world’s fastest legged robot.

Other developments from the company include PETMAN, an anthropomorphic robot for testing equipment, RISE, a robot that climbs vertical surfaces, and SquishBot, a shape-changing chemical robot that moves through tight spaces.

‘What a great opportunity this is for us to become part of Google, and to work with the gangbuster Google team,’ said Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics via email. ‘We have had a great time building unusual robots and bringing them this far along. Now we can take them to the next level and push robotics much further ahead. The entire Boston Dynamics robotics team will continue on here in Waltham, as part of Google.’

Boston Dynamics is better known for its impressive range of robots developed in projects with DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Big Dog was developed to negotiate all types of rough terrain and in March this year it was revealed that the robot had been modified to handle and throw heavy objects.

Cheetah, a tethered robot funded by DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program, achieved a new land speed record for legged robots at 28.3mph.

In June it was announced that several research groups were creating software to enable the company’s six-foot humanoid ATLAS robot to perform tasks that might be needed in a disaster, such as clearing debris.

The company, founded in 1992, has undertaken civilian projects also, working with Sony to produce the control system that allowed the Aibo robotic dog to run. Following that, the company developed a tool for Sony’s Qrio humanoid robot, allowing choreographers to design dance routines.

Click here for extensive coverage of Boston Dynamics in The Engineer.