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Is Google Preparing to Lead a Robot Uprising?

Scott Lucas | December 18, 2013 | Story Tech World

Our corporate overlords at Google have been busy this year. In addition to conquering the sea with Barge, and eyeballs with Glass, they've also embarked on a shopping spree, snapping up eight robotics companies around the world. The project is being overseen by Andy Rubin, who built the Android software for smartphones. And though it's not clear exactly what Google plans to do with all their new toys, it must be substantial, given the investment. With that in mind, here's our round up of the robot firms that Google has bought, rated by their ability to touch off the immanent metallic uprising.

Company: Boston Dynamics
Location: Boston
What it Makes: Humanoid and animal-based robots for the US military
Details: The Big Dog is a robot mule that can carry 155 kg. The Cheetah runs over 29 miles per hour. The Atlas is a human sized robot that can scale rough terrain. All of them will haunt your dreams tonight.
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): 6
Matrix Threat Rating (1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): 11

Company: Schaft
Location: Tokyo, Japan
What it Makes: Strong robot limbs like legs and arms
Details: The company's Urata Leg technology uses a high-voltage and high-current liquid-cooled motor, combined with sophisticated balancing algorithms, to make a robot much stronger than normal.
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): 7
Matrix Threat Rating (1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): 8

Company: Industrial Perception
Location: Silicon Valley
What it Makes: 3-D vision and navigation software
Purpose: Automated truck loading, bin picking, and parts feeding.
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): 2
Matrix Threat Rating:(1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): 5

Company: Meka
Location: San Francisco
What it Makes: Robots that work alongside humans
Details: The M1 Mobile Manipulator has two arms, a Kinect sensor, and an omnidirectional wheel base. They also make the S2 Humanoid Head, which is pretty much what it name says.
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): 9
Matrix Threat Rating (1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): 3

Company: Redwood Robotics
Location: San Francisco
What it Makes: Robot arms designed to work alongside humans
Details: They aim to make arms that a simple and inexpensive to operate.
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): 2
Matrix Threat Rating(1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): 2

Company: Bot & Dolly
Location: San Francisco
What it Makes: Six-axis industrial robots that can be used for film
Details: Their technology was key in the zero-G special effects of Gravity.
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): 1
Matrix Threat Rating (1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): 2

Company: Autofuss
Location: San Francisco
What it Makes:
The sister company of Bot & Dolly focuses on advertising and design
Details: Recently created a life-sized snow globe for Google, as well as ads for the Nexus, Chevy, and Facebook.
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): N/A
Matrix Threat Rating (1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): N/A

Company: Holomni
Location: Mountain View
What it Makes: Robot wheels
Details: Scant
Uncanny Valley Rating (1=Desktop computer; 10=Robert Downey Jr): 2
Matrix Threat Rating (1=WALL-E; 10=Terminator): 2 (+1 bonus point for the secrecy)

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