Alphabet layoffs: After 12,000 humans, Google parent comes for cafeteria robots
Just over a month after the January 20 announcement of nearly 12,000 human sackings, Alphabet layoffs have now come for its robots as the Google parent stares down further budget cuts.
According to Wired, one of the California company’s subsidiaries — Everyday Robots — is shutting down, and with it, over a hundred one-armed robots that wheeled around its cafeteria to clean tables, separate trash and recycle.
“Everyday Robots will no longer be a separate project within Alphabet. Some of the technology and part of the team will be consolidated into existing robotics efforts within Google Research.” said Denise Gamboa, director of marketing and communications at Everyday Robots.
The venture is the latest in a growing series of failed bets of X, the moonshot factory — another prodigal child of the Alphabet daddy — that combined with Waymo (previously known as the Google self-driving car project) to shrink the company’s profit by 21 percent to $60 billion last year.
Google co founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had hoped subjecting this roving fleet of robots to repetitive tasks for months could empower them — through machine learning — to use their cameras, arms and wheels to interact with their environment and spare programmers the annoying effort of having to write a code for every function.
But these automated butlers turned out to be a monetary overkill, with each costing "tens of thousands of dollars" and eventually joined the league of internet-beaming balloons and power-generating kites — projects that were abandoned over the past decade.
“It’s unfortunate to see it(ER) shut down,” a former employee told the publication. “We are starting to see that robots can do meaningful work in a general way. I don't think it’s a sign of a lack of progress. With the right focus, in five years you could have a meaningful product in the market.”