Advertising giant Google may be looking to exit the robot business, according to a report that it is looking to sell its Boston Dynamics subsidiary.
Best known for its humanoid and quadruped robot designs, Boston Dynamics was acquired by advertising company Google in 2013 as part of a push into new markets led by Android head Andy Rubin. Following Rubin's departure in 2014, however, the company's robotics effort - dubbed Replicant, after the film version of Blade Runner from which the Nexus range of Android devices also draws its name - has reportedly run into trouble, with the result that Boston Dynamics is no longer of interest to the company.
According to a report from Bloomberg
which claims to have seen internal documentation relating to the sale, Google's parent company Alphabet has concerns about Boston Robotic's ability to launch a commercially viable product in the near future. As a result, the company is being placed up for sale with likely bidders named as Toyota and Amazon - the latter of which uses robots heavily in its warehouses for product fulfilment.
For Google, the move is a blow: robotics was a major diversion from the company's core competencies, and one that was a serious gamble. With the company now seemingly admitting that the gamble failed to pay off, investors may be asking hard questions about the direction the company has taken in recent years.
Google has not commented on the report.