Andy Rubin, former Android chief, leaves Google

31 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Android Founder Departs Google, Adding to Executive Shakeup.

Andy Rubin, co-founder and former leader of Google’ Android mobile business and the current head of its nascent robotics effort, is leaving the internet giant. A week after the tech giant reorganized its top management, Andy Rubin, Google’s head of robotics and former head of Android, has confirmed that he is stepping down from the company to launch a new incubator for hardware startups.Andy Rubin, a high-ranking Google executive who spearheaded the company’s entrance into mobile phones and tablets and was in charge of the company’s nascent robotics group, has left the company. “I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next.

With Android he created something truly remarkable — with a billion-plus happy users,” said Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, in a statement. Rubin, who co-founded Android, joined Google in 2005 after the company acquired the mobile operating system, and he proceeded to run the Android division of the company until last year. He pushed for the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, a robotics company that has made waves with its spry, four-legged machines that can run like a cheetah. Thank you.” Mr Rubin provided crucial leadership and vision that helped Google keep up with Apple as smartphones became the go-to computing device for most people around the world. So I don’t think this is a setback at all.” Kuffner, who has more than two decades of robotics experience including several years working on Google’s self-driving car, already talks in Googlesque ways about the technology’s long-term potential. “I’ve always been interested in seeing forward-looking technology go from just an idea in a research lab to actually doing something practical and useful,” he told MIT Technology Review in late 2013. “It’s important that as a culture, and as a planet, that we keep pushing forward the boundaries.” The new robotics exec has credentials to match those lofty goals.

Page more room to focus on the company’s longer-term bets — like robotics — while handing almost all the responsibility for Google products to Sundar Pichai, a rising star. Rubin joins a list of several high-profile departures from Google this year, including Vic Gundotra, who led the company’s social-networking efforts, and Nikesh Arora, who had been chief business officer. He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in 1999 and since 2002 he has worked at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, considered one of the top institutions for robotics research. “I know James well and honestly can’t imagine a better person for the job. In an email to the Journal, Rubin insisted that his decision to leave Google had nothing to do with the company or its leader, Larry Page. “Larry enabled the robotic effort to run exactly the way I wanted it to, and we made great progress in our first year,” he wrote. In 2013, Android fell under the purview of Sundar Pichai, who had formerly managed the company’s work with the Chrome web browser and operating system.

He has the vision, the passion, and the technical chops to do great things with this opportunity,” said Russ Tedrake, an expert in robotics and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr Rubin is an entrepreneurial spirit who likes to run his own show and was facing constraints on his activities at Google, a person familiar with the executive and Google said. Meanwhile, Twitter Inc. appointed Kevin Weil head of product, broadening his responsibilities and shifting another executive into a different role as part of the change, said a person with knowledge of the matter. Daniel Graf, who was hired from Google Inc. and had been head of consumer product since April, has moved into a special projects job, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Rubin also played a major role in Google’s legal battle with Oracle over the use of Java code in Android, testifying in court that, while working on Android, he had been under the impression that key Java APIs were copyrighted. µ Kuffner also is credited with coining the term cloud robotics, an emerging field that lets robots take advantage of the massive computational, storage, and communications power of modern, distributed data centers. All this reorganization, however, raises some important questions about whether a company of Google’s substantial size and status can stay innovative, even as it grows. Rubin left Android and began an ambitious acquisition spree that included at least eight companies, with the intent of building a robotics business inside Google.

Using his technology, once one robot can recognize a particular object, every other robot in the network should be able to recognize that object, too, according to John Leonard, another robotics expert at MIT. Can someone like Rubin, who started as an entrepreneur and had relatively free reign over Android in his early days at Google, really remain happy as the company becomes more hierarchical and regimented? Pichai is considered a more open, collaborative executive more suited to the task of keeping Android’s various partners, including handset makers and wireless-network operators, in the fold. And can Page really replicate the magic he had when Google’s business was narrowly focused on a few product categories, now that the company’s aspirations are so broad and far-reaching? Rubin told people that he intended to embark on a 10-year project that would automate things like Google Express — the company’s same-day delivery service.

Kuffner is representative of the many robotics experts Google has either recruited or brought to the company through acquisitions, according to Rich Mahoney, executive director of robotics at SRI International, a non-profit technology research group in Silicon Valley. “Their public stance has been that this effort was part of a long-term investment in robotics. More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader. Google’s entrance into the robotics field has sparked widespread speculation about the company’s intentions for bringing more automation to industries including manufacturing and automobiles.

Led by Andy Rubin, who built the Android software, Google has acquired seven companies with hopes to automate manufacturing and even rival Amazon in retail delivery. A version of this article appears in print on 10/31/2014, on page B3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Co-Founder of Android Departs Top Google Post.

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