Today, wheels are everywhere -- cars, shopping carts, luggage. Tomorrow, there will be legs everywhere, robotics investor Andy Rubin predicts.
"Why wouldn't I want to add legs to everything in the world?" Rubin asked at a TechCrunch robotics conference at the University of California at Berkeley on Friday.
Well, maybe not everything. But a lot more things that could use them, starting with package delivery systems.
"You've seen last-mile delivery vehicles. If you want one of those to walk up the front steps of your house and go up to the door, the only way you're going to do that is with legs," Rubin said. "The majority of the population lives in high-rises. Entering an elevator and going to the front door -- that's just not something you're able to do with wheels."
He showed off a pair of torso-less robotic legs called Cassie that mimic biological balance and movement and that are built by a startup Rubin funded, Agility Robotics.
Rubin's legs-everywhere vision may or may not come to pass, but the high-profile Silicon Valley tech exec is in as good a position as anyone to help make it happen.
Google acquired his company, Danger, and turned it into an immense mobile phone software power. Then at Google, Rubin launched a robotics program that acquired several startups, including Boston Dynamics, maker of the impressive SpotMini quadruped robot and bipedal Atlas humanoid robot. Rubin left Google to form Android phone maker Essential, but then in November launched startup incubator Playground Global, which has a focus on robotics.
At Playground, he's betting that robots will work in concert with centralized cloud-computing services that help control them and help them learn from each other.
"In this architecture, if a robot learns not to spill milk once, then no robot ever spills milk again," Rubin said.
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