Google, which recently laid off thousands of employees globally, is now laying off the robots that cleaned cafeterias at its headquarters. A report by Wired recently said that Alphabet’s “Everyday Robots” project — a unit under Google’s experimental X laboratories — has been shut down by Google’s chief executive officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai.
More than 100 wheeled one-armed robots that were trained by the project to clean cafeterias, separate trash and recycling and open doors, are being laid off. “Everyday Robots will no longer be a separate project within Alphabet,” Denise Gamboa, director of marketing and communications for the project, said, reported Wired.
Everyday Robots had emerged from the rubble of at least eight robotic acquisitions by Google 10 years back. A former employee said that from its earliest days, the project struggled with whether its mission was to pursue advanced research or deliver a product to market. More than 200 people were employed and robotics experts estimated that the robots likely cost thousands of dollars, which was expensive for Alphabet.
“It’s unfortunate to see it shut down,” the former employee said, adding robots could do meaningful work in a general way. “I don’t think it’s a sign of a lack of progress. With the right focus, in five years you could have a meaningful product in the market.”
For the last few years, Alphabet has been developing an integrated hardware and software system for learning, including the transfer of knowledge from the virtual to the actual world. The robots slowly gained a greater grasp of the world around them and became more adept at executing ordinary activities, using a combination of machine learning techniques like reinforcement learning, collaborative learning, and learning from demonstration.
With the robot division now shut down, some of its technology could be used for other divisions.
You can now write for wionews.com and be a part of the community. Share your stories and opinions with us here.