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Alphabet, Google's parent company is to sell Boston Dynamics, the maker of robotic creatures such as BigDog and Atlas, the four-legged robots. The decision was made by Alphabet executives responsible for ensuring that all its subsidiary companies are capable of generating real profits in the future.
The executives concluded that Boston Dynamics would fail to meet this objective, since it was unlikely to come up with a marketable product in the next few years. Jonathan Rosenberg, an adviser to Larry Page, chief executive at Alphabet, had said in November 2015 that, "We as a startup of our size cannot spend 30-plus percent of our resources on things that take ten years. There's some time frame that we need to be generating an amount of revenue that covers expenses and (that) needs to be a few years."
Toyota Research Institute, a division of Toyota Motor Corporation and Amazon, which builds robots for its fulfilment centres, are understood to be potential buyers for Boston Dynamics.
Google acquired about a dozen robotics companies more than two years ago among which Boston Dynamics, acquired in late 2013, is the best known. Andy Rubin, former chief of the Android division spearheaded the robotics deals and brought about 300 robotics engineers into Google and codenamed the division Replicant. However, after he left the company in October 2014, this division failed to make progress.
Apart from failing to come up with new products that could be marketed in the near term, the main problem at Replicant according to a source was the reluctance of executives at Boston Dynamics to work alongside other robot engineers of Google at its California and Tokyo offices, according to Bloomberg.
Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics had said, "I firmly believe the only way to get to a product is through the work we are doing in Boston. (I) don't think we are the pie in the sky guys as much as everyone thinks we are."
The tension between Boston Dynamics and the rest of the Replicant group had become quite obvious. Aaron Edsinger, director of robotics at Google in San Francisco, said that he had felt "a bit of a brick wall" while trying to work with Boston Dynamics to create a low-cost electric quadruped robot.
Coupled with this was the discomfort that a few Google executives had expressed with being associated with robots. Courtney Hohne, director of communications at Google, had said that these robots are being seen as "terrifying, ready to take humans' jobs".