Tech giant Google recently laid off thousands of employees, and the cuts didn’t stop there. The tech giant has laid off a team of robots trained to clear trash and perform other cleaning duties.
Wired reports that Google recently laid off thousands of workers. Part of those layoffs includes the team behind Everyday Robots, a subsidiary that recently graduated from Alphabet X’s moonshot lab. The team trained over a hundred wheeled, one-armed robots that perform tasks for the tech giant such as cleaning cafeteria tables, separating trash, and recycling.
Denise Gamboa, director of marketing and communications for Everyday Robots, commented: “Everyday Robots will no longer be a separate project within Alphabet. Some of the technology and part of the team will be consolidated into existing robotics efforts within Google Research.”
The shutdown of Everyday Robots is the latest in a long line of failed X projects including Loon, a project that aimed to develop internet-beaming balloons, and Makani, which developed power-generating kites. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin bet big on robots over ten years ago, expecting that machine learning would massively impact other aspects of the robotics industry.
In 2016, Google appointed software entrepreneur Hans Peter Brøndmo to lead a project known as Help that aimed to combine machine learning and robotics to create personal assistants that could perform daily tasks and adapt to unique environments. The team developed training playpens where robots would spend months repeating the same tasks, such as sorting trash in an attempt to generate data to train a machine learning model that could be placed into robots with the ability to perform multiple tasks.
The idea worked to a degree, and Google had Everyday Robots’ fleet cleaning the company’s dining halls and checking for untidy conference rooms during the coronavirus pandemic. At one point, Everday Robots staffed over 200 employees, including people overseeing customer operations and training robots.
But, Everday Robots and the company’s self-driving car firm Waymo, cost the company $6.1 billion last year, and as Google’s overall profit fell 21 percent last year to $60 billion, the project appeared to be too costly to maintain. On January 20, Alphabet announced the layoffs of about 12,000 workers, with Everyday Robots being one of the projects disbanded.
A former employee commented: “It’s unfortunate to see it shut down. We are starting to see that robots can do meaningful work in a general way. I don’t think it’s a sign of a lack of progress. With the right focus, in five years you could have a meaningful product in the market.”
Read more at Wired here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan
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