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labor Why Robots Are Essential to Google’s Future

Google is aggressively moving into the business of developing a newer class of robots - those designed to be more mobile, versatile, and human-like. The goal: expanding the market for robots to small- and medium-sized companies in order to reduce their labor costs. Google recently acquired a suite of robotics-related companies, including one in Japan, and has created a new division within Google to consolidate research and development in this field.

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Google is hoping to create robots that can take on even more responsibilities. Last week, the company disclosed that it acquired seven start-ups focused on robotics and that it was busy cobbling those pieces into a business, according to the New York Times.

Why would Google, which first gained fame with its search engine, push in robotics? Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are big fans of futuristic projects, referred to inside the company as “moon shots.” After all, they have already taken on the challenge of building self-driving cars, a technology that is closely tied to robotics. But there is also another very big reason to invest in a new robot initiative: A big potential payday.

Global sales of robots are expected to grow 10.5 percent annually to $20.2 billion in 2016, according to the Freedonia Group, a market research firm. It’s a huge market with plenty of willing business customers, as long as they’re convinced that the cost of buying robots is cheaper and more efficient than leaving the work to humans.

Industrial robots have long been the source of most sales in the robotics industry. Their mechanical arms weld cars, assemble circuit boards and put labels on packages of food. Typically, such robots are bolted down and operated from within a protective cage to keep workers nearby from getting injured.

Robots work tirelessly in factories, often around the clock, to churn out cars, computers and pack bags of cookies into boxes. They never complain, ask for breaks or demand bigger paychecks. In fact, robotic technology is advancing so quickly that machines are taking on a growing list of responsibilities once handled exclusively by humans. Over the past few years, they’ve started to help doctors with surgery, fetch products in warehouses and milk dairy cows. . . .

Continue reading full article at Time