Foxconn produces some of the world's best known devices for most of its beloved brands, though the way it goes about that business may soon radically change with the help of Google. As The Wall Street Journal reveals, Google's head of robotics Andy Rubin and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou recently met "to speed up deployment" of Google's robot technology at the Taiwanese company's factories.
Rubin's team made a lot of headlines with its acquisition of Boston Dynamics at the end of last year, but that was only the most public of several efforts by the web company to advance and expand its robotics expertise. Today's report suggests that the first area of application will be in automating manufacturing — which Foxconn is keen to do in order to counter rising wage costs. Gou is said to have "expressed excitement" at the meeting with Google where new automation tech was demonstrated.
The two companies have been talking about robots with killer productivity
Google's ambitions, according to the Journal, include replacing manual labor for intricate tasks like electronics assembly, but will also extend beyond the factory floor to "competing with companies like Amazon in retailing." Amazon itself has already suggested using drones for deliveries, so a robot arms race between these two companies could be on the cards.
As to the broader impact of these changes, they could help bolster Barack Obama's plans of creating new tech hubs in the United States. Foxconn has already been replacing workers with robots and planning new manufacturing facilities in the US — but that will only be viable once a sufficient level of automation is achieved.