Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has announced the birth of a new company called Intrinsic that focuses on building software for industrial robots. The subsidiary is one of Alphabet’s “other inputs” – relatively speculative companies focusing on new technology such as Waymo (self-driving cars), Wing (delivery crabs) and Verily (healthcare and biotechnology).
The details of exactly what Intrinsic builds or who its customers are are unclear. A blog post the company’s new CEO, Wendy Tan White, discusses Intrinsic’s ambitions extensively, saying it “opens up the creative and economic potential of industrial robotics to millions of companies, entrepreneurs and developers” by creating software that makes industrial robots easier to use, cheaper and more flexible. ”
Robotics has been obsessed with Google for years, but the company’s efforts have not been focused and have yet to produce any commercial hits.
In 2013, Google went into robot shopping by buying seven companies in about six months, including Schaft (a Japanese company known as two-legged bots), Bot & Dolly (producers very cool viral videos) and Boston Dynamics (not required to be introduced). The endeavor was named “Replicant,” and was led by Andy Rubin, the director who founded the Android mobile operating system. Over the years, however, Replicant and Google did not become news sold or extinguish most acquisitions. Why? Partly because robots are difficult to make and not very profitable. But also because Rubin left the company in 2014 accused of misconduct (which Google kept secret).
Since the failure of Replicant, the company has focused more on the software side and, through machine learning, taught robots to handle objects without direct supervision. This plays into Google’s strengths and will obviously be Intrinsic’s focus in the future.
“Over the past few years, our team has been researching how to give industrial robots the ability to perceive, learn, and make changes automatically as they perform their tasks so they work with a wider setting and application,” writes Tan White in a blog post. “[W]We have tested software that uses technologies such as automated observation, deep learning, reinforcement learning, business planning, simulation, and power management. “
More, we really don’t know. While it’s worth noting, it’s not the only robotics effort on Google right now. In 2019, the company announced its everyday robot project: an effort was placed in the company’s technology incubator X to develop a “universal learning robot”. What happened to this project is unclear, and by clicking on its link homepage “read more” will only redirect you to a startup blog post that hasn’t changed since 2019. Maybe Intrinsic is better off keeping Google’s attention.