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Robots to perform map work for Google

Mountain View, US: Fleets of robots could assist Google with collecting information, replacing the humans that photograph streets for Google Maps. One Google engineer familiar with Google X lab said it was run as mysteriously as the CIA — with two offices, a nondescript one for logistics, on the company’s Mountain View campus, and one for robots, in a secret location, The New York Times reported.

According to the report, while software engineers toil away elsewhere at Google, the lab is filled with roboticists and electrical engineers. They have been hired from Microsoft, Nokia Labs, Stanford, M.I.T., Carnegie Mellon and New York University.

Because Google X is a breeding ground for big bets that could turn into colossal failures or Google’s next big business — and it could take years to figure out which — just the idea of these experiments terrifies some shareholders and analysts.

The report stressed that at Google, which uses artificial intelligence techniques and machine learning in its search algorithm, some of the outlandish projects may not be as much of a stretch as they first appear, even though they defy the bounds of the company’s main Web search business. For example, space elevators, a longtime fantasy of Google’s founders and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, could collect information or haul things into space. (In theory, they involve rocketless space travel along a cable anchored to Earth.) “Google is collecting the world’s data, so now it could be collecting the solar system’s data,” said Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus at M.I.T.’s computer science and artificial intelligence lab and founder of Heartland Robotics.

Brooks added, “They are pretty far out in front right now. But Google is not an ordinary company, so almost nothing applies.”

Source: www.nytimes.com