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Alphabet Reportedly Lays Off Robots That Cleaned Cafeterias

The robots were trained to pick up trash, among other tasks, but didn't survive recent budget cuts, according to Wired.

A one-armed robot reaches for a sponge.
Google-parent Alphabet employed than 100 one-armed robots on wheels to clean its cafeterias.

Amid layoffs at Google and the tech industry at large, one group of workers at parent company Alphabet that didn't survive economic headwinds? The robots that helped clean the company's cafeterias, Wired reported on Wednesday.

One of Alphabet's experimental departments, Everyday Robots, which had a team of more than 200 people working on various exploratory robotics projects, is being shuttered a little more than a year after being promoted out of Alphabet's secretive X moonshot lab, according to Wired.

The Everday Robots team developed and trained more than 100 one-armed robots on wheels that could "squeegee cafeteria tables, separate trash and recycling," and open doors, among other capabilities. While being trained, the robots undertook tasks like tidying up the company's dining halls and checking the cleanliness of conference rooms during the pandemic, according to the report. 

Despite making progress, the robots and their trainers weren't immune to Alphabet's budget cuts. The robots likely cost tens of thousands of dollars each, according to robotics experts, Wired said. 

"Everyday Robots will no longer be a separate project within Alphabet," Denise Gamboa, director of marketing and communications for Everyday Robots, told Wired. "Some of the technology and part of the team will be consolidated into existing robotics efforts within Google Research."

Alphabet and Everyday Robots didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.