Google lays off robots that opened Doors and cleaned cafeterias

Media sources state that Google’s experimental division, Everyday Robots, is being shut down a year after being moved from Alphabet’s hush-hush X moonshot project. Almost 200 staff members from the division were engaged in many experimental robotics projects. In order to reduce expenses, Google is turning off the robots that have been programmed to clean cafeteria tables, sort rubbish, and unlock doors.

Google fired 480 workers in India

Everyday Robots will no longer be an independent Alphabet initiative. According to Denise Gamboa, head of marketing and communications for Everyday Robots, “some of the technology and part of the team will be integrated into current robotics activities within Google Research.

Google said it would cut off 12,000 employees in January as the Covid-19 pandemic-related economic boom wanes. Google cutbacks have also touched Indian coasts. According to reports, the IT giant fired 450–480 workers late at night in India from various divisions. Employees who engaged in dotted-line reporting or had no direct bosses were let go. Many personnel in Bangalore and Hyderabad who were level four software developers, backend developers, cloud engineers, and digital marketers were let go.

Cost-cutting Alphabet lays off robots that cleaned cafeteria
Credits: The New York Post

Since last year, layoffs have been occurring globally in the internet sector, notably at businesses like Twitter, Microsoft, and Yahoo, to reduce expenses in the face of uncertain economic conditions.

The tech-giant  operated fleet of more than 100 robot prototypes

The business earlier reported that several of its prototype machines from the Everyday Robots Project, a group under its experimental X labs tasked with developing “a general-purpose learning robot,” had been relocated to Google’s Bay Area campuses to do some light cleaning duties.

Hans Peter Brndmo, the chief robot officer of Everyday Robot, wrote in a blog post, “We are now operating a fleet of more than 100 robot prototypes that are autonomously performing a range of useful tasks around our offices.” The same robot that sorts trash cans can now be outfitted with a squeegee to clean tables, and it can even learn to open doors with the help of the same gripper that holds drinks.

These particular robots are essentially multifunctional grippers on wheels with flexible arms coupled to a central tower. The tower’s “head” has sensors and cameras for machine vision, as well as what seems to be a rotating lidar device on the side, which is likely used for navigation.

As Brndmo notes, when Alphabet introduced the Everyday Robot team in 2019, these bots were initially observed sorting recyclables. The company’s main claim is that machine learning will eventually allow robots to function in “unstructured” situations like homes and offices.