Google developing humanoid robotics project

Google recently acquired Industrial Perception, the company that designed this robotic arm for loading and unloading trucks. Industrial Perception Facebook page

Google is working on a humanoid robotics project that could completely change the way packages land at your door – and how they’re packaged in the first place. The project is part of the company's new robotics group.

The announcement comes just three days after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes that his company is developing autonomous delivery drones.

First reported in the New York Times, the Google project is spearheaded by Andy Rubin, a veteran engineer who recently stepped down as the head of Google’s Android smartphone division. Previously, Rubin worked at Apple Computer and as a robotics engineer at the German company Carl Zeiss.

“I am excited about Andy Rubin's next project,” Google co-founder Larry Page posted on his Google Plus page. “His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets.  It is still very early days for this, but I can't wait to see the progress.”

In an email to CBSNews.com, Google declined further comment. 

Though the announcement was light on details, Rubin said that he is focused on logistics and manufacturing, and referenced a “10-year vision” in the interview.

In the article, unnamed specialists and “several people with specific knowledge of the project” speculated that the project is targeting manufacturing supply chains, shipping, and delivery processes.

Rubin also mentioned automating simple tools, like windshield wipers. He also compared it with Google’s self-driving car project. Started in 2009, it’s now starting to come to fruition. This robotics division will be separate from the divisions that are working on the car and on other futuristic projects, like Google Glass.

Since Rubin started the robot project, Google has acquired seven robotics and artificial intelligence companies from the U.S. and Japan. The companies have designed everything from truck loading arms to robotic camera systems, high-tech wheels and computer vision systems. 

The Google robotics group will be based in Palo Alto, with a satellite office in Japan.

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    Danielle Elliot is a freelance science editor and reporter for CBS News. She holds an M.A. in science and health journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. Follow her on Twitter - @daniellelliot.

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