After Google’s parent company Alphabet announced plans to lay off 12,000 workers, the company has now fired 100 robots that cleaned the cafeterias at its headquarters.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai also shut down Alphabet’s ‘Everyday Robots’ project, a unit under Google’s experimental X laboratories, according to the technology publication Wired report.
The team, which trained over a hundred one-armed wheeled robots to clean the cafeterias, separate trash, and recycling, besides opening doors, is shutting down as part of budget cuts spreading across the Google parent, the report confirmed the development citing a spokesperson.
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These robots that graduated more than a year ago from Alphabet’s X moonshot lab also helped keep conference rooms clean during the pandemic.
“Some of the technology and part of the team will be consolidated into existing robotics efforts within Google Research,” the report quoted Denise Gamboa, director of marketing and communications for Everyday Robots as saying.
Everyday Robots was one of the eight robotics acquisitions by Google a decade ago. Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin expected machine learning would reshape robotics, and Page in particular wanted to develop a consumer-oriented robot, according to a former employee.
The company worked towards developing an integrated hardware and software system for learning, including the transfer of knowledge from the virtual to the actual world.
With time, robots managed to gain a greater grasp of the world around them and succeeded in executing ordinary activities, using a combination of machine learning techniques like reinforcement learning, collaborative learning, and learning from demonstration.
Alphabet has recently announced its plans to cut roughly 12,000 jobs. The tech behemoth is planning to reduce its staff by 6 per cent. This will be the company’s biggest-ever round of layoffs amid the economic slowdown, reported news agency Bloomberg.
The tech behemoth will provide severance packages that include vacation, bonus pay and healthcare. Google has even asked employees who return to work to share their work desks with a “partner” to maximise office space.