Google: Robot Investment
Google Ventures, the US search giant's investment arm, has secured a stake in robot-maker Savioke, a six-month-old US start-up that is yet to announce its first product.
Savioke says it is creating "autonomous robot helpers for the services industry" – which may operate in homes for the elderly, hospitals and restaurants. Customer trials are due to begin later this year.
Savioke's chief executive Steve Cousins is the former head of Willow Garage, a robotics research and development lab in California. The lab launched a number of other successful robotics start-ups during his tenure, two of which were acquired by Google in 2013 – Industrial Perception, which developed advanced 3D visual sensors to guide robots, and robot arm manufacturer Redwood Robotics.
In the past year, Google has acquired eight robotics companies, including DeepMind – an artificial intelligence firm that employs some of the world's best artificial intelligence specialists.
Advances in robotics have huge potential to disrupt the service, manufacturing and healthcare industries in coming decades. For example, care homes in Japan and Europe have been using Paro – a cuddly robotic pet shaped like a seal – to provide residents with psychological benefits similar to animal therapy.