Alphabet Puts Prototype Robots To Work Cleaning Up Google’s Offices

The company announced today that its Everyday Robots Project -- a team within its experimental X labs dedicated to creating "a general-purpose learning robot" -- has moved some of its prototype machines out of the lab and into Google's Bay Area campuses to carry out some light custodial tasks. The Verge reports: "We are now operating a fleet of more than 100 robot prototypes that are autonomously performing a range of useful tasks around our offices," said Everyday Robot's chief robot officer Hans Peter Brondmo in a blog post. "The same robot that sorts trash can now be equipped with a squeegee to wipe tables and use the same gripper that grasps cups can learn to open doors." These robots in question are essentially arms on wheels, with a multipurpose gripper on the end of a flexible arm attached to a central tower. There's a "head" on top of the tower with cameras and sensors for machine vision and what looks like a spinning lidar unit on the side, presumably for navigation. As Brondmo indicates, these bots were first seen sorting out recycling when Alphabet debuted the Everyday Robot team in 2019. The big promise that's being made by the company (as well as by many other startups and rivals) is that machine learning will finally enable robots to operate in "unstructured" environments like homes and offices.

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