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Google Foresees a Future in Robots

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It seems like the next big thing from Google (GOOG) is to be robots. Not ones to deliver your next Android smartphone, tablet or Chromebook to your front door, but robots which will make industrial assembly lines even more efficient.

Google's Andy Rubin, former chief architect of the company's Android operating system is busy. According to the New York Times, Rubin is working on developing robots that will help automate the production and of products for Google and others.

The project reportedly isn't aimed directly at the consumer, the story notes.

Google robots could be used to ship and deliver items made by the robots themselves. Recently, Google has been testing a fleet of new self-driving cars. Google has also been delving into package delivery with its Google Shopping service.

If a customer buys or configures a product online, the robot would assemble and package the device, then hand it off to another robot to load it onto a robot-controlled vehicle which will deliver it to the end user. Google will be able to control the entire chain from start to finish.

The idea won't be very popular with U.S. labor unions. Google robots could be programmed to assemble electronic devices which, at the moment are mostly assembled by hand. Just ask Apple (AAPL) and others about employing thousands of workers to make popular products. Google robots could solve the problem and lower production costs.

Mr. Rubin and Google reportedly have been quietly acquired seven artificial intelligence and robot start-ups in the United States and Japan to help with the project.

While Google isn't saying much about the project or the scale of the current investment but is reportedly taking the project quite seriously. Google co-founder Larry Page has taken to his Google+ page to talk about the project:

I am excited about Andy Rubin's next project. His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets. It is still very early days for this, but I can't wait to see the progress.

Mr. Rubin said the new project will allow the company to control the complexities associated with creating consumer electronics. He told the Times, "I feel with robotics it's a green field. We're building hardware, we're building software. We're building systems, so one team will be able to understand the whole stack."

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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