Cook ‘Proud to be Gay'; Rubin Leaving Google; Microsoft’s $199 Smart Band

31 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Android co-founder leaves Google.

The Wall Street Journal (paywalled) reported Rubin’s departure on Thursday, revealing that he is leaving Google after nine years to create an incubator for hardware startups in the field of robotics. “I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next. Andy Rubin, former leader of Google’s Android mobile business, oversaw a series of robotics acquisitions last year, so his departure comes at a poor time for the company. “Robotics is still a difficult technology to pull off well, I think moreso than many or all tech fields,” said Michael Wagner, a senior commercialization specialist with the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University. “James has the expertise to navigate traps others with less experience may not expect. 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. 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 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. Rubin stayed at Google after leaving the Android team to work on robotics, overseeing many acquisitions in the space, including that of Boston Dynamics. 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.

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. 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.

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