Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Google robotic acquisitions: a cluster of deals

Google's recent acquisition of eight robotics companies  has garnered as much attention as Amazon's futuristic plan for package delivery via drones. Speculation abounds on Google's goals for its robot menagerie -- from delivery droids to elder care assistants. Stephen Colbert quips that Google intends to enslave humanity, and thus Colbert is breeding an Ewok army to counter a forthcoming invasion.

An acquisitions cluster involves a series of company purchases in a highly related sector. This is not the first time Google has bunched deals in a given sector, but this concentration of eight clustered acquisitions in a short time is unprecedented. (A cluster differs from an ecosystem in that ecosystems typically cut across the value chain of an industry, whereas clusters tend to be focused a specific sector.)

True, each of Google's acquisitions has distinctive attributes. For example, Industrial Perception focuses on robotic "sight", Boston Dynamics emphasizes mobility, and Meta stresses humanoid features. But all companies fit cleanly in the robotic sector.

Whatever robotic applications spring forth from this acquisition frenzy, the size of the cluster signals Google is serious about this moonshot initiative.

You can find details about Google and its robotics deals at

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