Google is making moves to acquire robotics firms to develop higher capabilities and products. Their purchase of Boston Dynamics and seven other companies indicate that they have made their way into the military market (1). The program is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that seeks to create a new generation of robots. Combining the knowledge of multiple agencies through acquisition raises Google’s stature in this field.
The goal for the time being is to develop robots that mimic things in nature. It is likely that someday they will try and put different capabilities into the same robot. At present some of the interesting stuff includes a 28 mph running cheetah, SquishBot which changes shape to get in tight areas, and Petman which mimics human abilities (2). Each of these robots takes significant research, designing, and software.
Google has developed the Android service, plenty of applications, and has satellites that map the world. They are in a unique position to incorporate the knowledge and abilities of other companies to create new functional uses (3). As a strategy it is likely that Google will obtain additional military contracts and use their wide breadth of knowledge to converge to fast developing new civilian and military products.
There are other applications outside of military that delve into supply chain management, search and rescue, industrial automation, and space flight. Such robots have high capabilities and are not subject to environmental constraints that humans are. As these robots develop we are likely to officially enter the second industrial revolution as this technology becomes sold to other industries.