Alphabet is shutting down its Everyday Robots project — another casualty of job cuts at Google’s parent company and the latest in a long list of failed hardware ventures.
According to a report from Wired, Everyday Robots will no longer exist as a discrete team at the tech giant. “Everyday Robots will no longer be a separate project within Alphabet,” Denise Gamboa, director of marketing and communications for Everyday Robots, told the publication. “Some of the technology and part of the team will be consolidated into existing robotics efforts within Google Research.”
We’ve contacted Alphabet for confirmation and will update this story if we hear more details about the exact number of jobs affected.
Alphabet has been cutting costs this year, with Google laying off approximately 12,000 workers in January. That same month, another Alphabet robotics venture, Intrinsic was also hit by a roughly 20 percent cut to its headcount, or around 40 employees. Intrinsic builds control software for industrial machines,
Everyday Robots launched in 2019, with an aim of designing armed robots that could help out in domestic and office settings; taking on light custodial work like sorting trash and cleaning tables. The project’s prototype, single-armed, wheeled robots were tested in Google’s offices from 2021, and in 2022 received an upgrade courtesy of Google’s AI language research, letting them process natural language commands.
You can see the robots in action in the demo video below:
However, building robots that can take on such work in unstructured and unpredictable environments like offices is notoriously difficult. After decades of research and huge success in the creation of industrial robots, we’ve only really managed to conquer one domestic task using mobile machines: vacuum cleaning. (Are regular appliances like dishwashers robots? You can argue that one out in the comments.)
It’s a disappointing end for another of Alphabet’s ambitious hardware ventures. A decade ago, Google embarked on a robotics acquisition spree, buying numerous companies like Boston Dynamics. However the initiative was led by exec Andy Rubin, who left the company the following year after being accused of sexual misconduct while reportedly under the protection of Google’s leadership. Despite this initial burst of activity, Alphabet’s robotics ventures have never got off the ground, though the company continues to produce research in the area.