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Google layoffs impact robots too, company shuts automaton project: Report


The automatons were developed as a ‘general purpose’ robot which depended on cameras and machine learning to perform the tasks in an ‘everyday human environment’.

Hindustan Times

02 March, 2023, 11:25 am

Last modified: 02 March, 2023, 11:32 am

A robotic arm shapes a metal sheet at Machina Labs in Chatsworth, California, US, A startup named Machina is using robots to make the kinds of metal components for manufacturers that have often required significant manual work in the past. (Bloomberg)

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A robotic arm shapes a metal sheet at Machina Labs in Chatsworth, California, US, A startup named Machina is using robots to make the kinds of metal components for manufacturers that have often required significant manual work in the past. (Bloomberg)

A robotic arm shapes a metal sheet at Machina Labs in Chatsworth, California, US, A startup named Machina is using robots to make the kinds of metal components for manufacturers that have often required significant manual work in the past. (Bloomberg)

It seems like even robots are not immune to the widespread massive layoffs by tech giants.

According to a report in Wired, Google is pulling the plug on Everyday Robots – a company which developed and trained over 100 robots to carry out tasks like differentiating trash, opening doors, replacing missing chairs and cleaning the tables. The subsidiary was under Google’s parent company Alphabet’s ‘moonshot project’ X. Quoting a spokesperson, the report added that although Everyday Robots will cease to exist as a distinct team, some of the employees and technology will continue to be a part of Google’s other robotics projects.

According to the X website, the automatons were developed as a ‘general purpose’ robot which depended on cameras and machine learning to perform the tasks in an ‘everyday human environment’. The technology also incorporated language models similar to the one operating behind ChatGPT so it could accommodate snack requests and other daily demands from employees.

The report stated that the robotics arm was shut as part of the company’s budget cuts announced by CEO Sundar Pichai in January, which included slashing nearly 12,000 jobs.

According to an ex-employee, the Everyday Robots’ team members lacked clarity from the beginning on whether the goal was to develop advanced technology or create a consumer product. Experts found that each robot cost the company approximately tens of thousands of dollars.

Last week, a CNBC report stated that Google had asked its cloud employees and partners to share desks and alternate days with their deskmates from the next quarter at the offices in the United States- New York City, San Fransisco, Seattle, Sunnyvale in California and Kirkland in Washington.

The new system, which expects some buildings to be vacated, is being implemented so that the company can continue to invest in Cloud’s growth. Employees are expected to report to the office on alternate days to avoid clash of desks.





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