December 23, 2013
Google Gets Wall Street Thinking About Robots
Last week, Google confirmed its acquisition of the robotics company Boston Dynamics and faster than you could say “Skynet!” – everyone from cable news to late-night comedians were half-mockingly proclaiming the Internet search company to be the engineers of our future dystopia hell-scape.
Currently relegated to cleaning our pools and vacuuming our carpets, robots will undoubtedly become more and more a part of our daily lives. However, when the acquisition is seen against the backdrop of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon drone announcement – the Google move currently seems to be more about the company stock price than putting a robot in every home.
Constantly playing second-fiddle to other tech giants, Bezos announced earlier in the month that Amazon is currently testing drones that would delivery products to people’s door steps. However, the logistics of such an operation seem fuzzy at best: How would the octo-copter drones avoid trees? What if somebody got their fingers chopped off by tiny spinning blades? The significant lack of detail left many serious observers scratching their heads.
While the Bezos announcement may have felt like P.T. Barnum-style publicity stunt, these stunts appear to have a real effect on the stock market. After Google announced its most recent acquisition last Friday, the stock price for iRobot soared over 17 percent on the following Tuesday – an indication that the Google robotics acquisition may have the most significant impact on your 401K.
“It really validates what is going on in the robotics industry,” Tom Ryden, chief operating officer of robotics maker VGo Communications Inc., told the Boston Globe. “Google is not going to do something small. If they are getting into this, they believe it is a large market.”
He added that the Google move could be the rising tide that lifts the boats of robotics companies large, like iRobot, and small, like VGo Communications.
“I think it’s going to float everyone’s boat in the robotics industry,” said Ryden, whose company has recently raised $18 million in funding.
Like Back to the Future’s flying cars and hoverboards, it’s probably safe to assume that we won’t see Google robots roaming the streets anytime soon. However, the future stock market will apparently be watching Google’s every move.
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