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Under Google, robot maker reduces dependence on military funding

Martyn Williams | July 21, 2014
Boston Dynamics took US$31 million in government funding last year, but this year it has had almost none.

The LS-3's role in battle was highlighted this week when U.S. Marines put the robot through its paces in a variety of terrains as part of the RIMPAC multinational naval exercise in Hawaii.

Scott Strawn, an IDC analyst who follows Google closely, said its "don't be evil" mantra is more a PR statement than a fixed rule for business, but it does reflect an awareness at Google that making money depends on maintaining the trust of its users. That can create tension when areas of its work overlap with government and military goals.

"There are just inherent aspects of their business that are going to be very interesting from a defense perspective," he said.

While Google's robot ambitions are unclear, it may have little interest in becoming a supplier to the military. In December, it said it would "honor existing military contracts," but that it did not plan to become "a military contractor on its own," according to a news report at the time.

Instead, it's believed to be interested in robots for use in factory automation, home help, package delivery and even as explorers on future space missions.

 

 

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