The latest string of layoffs in the tech industry has now impacted more than just humans. It also impacts robots.
Google is shutting down a company that trained and created robots to perform simple tasks at its headquarters. According to Wired , Everyday Robots was created within X, Google’s parent company Alphabet. It is being shut down as a cost-saving measure.
Over 100 robots were developed by the company to perform tasks such as cleaning cafeteria tables or separating recyclables and trash. Hans Peter Brandom, Chief Robot Officer, wrote that the robots could also be programmed to open doors and replace chairs in offices using a variety of teaching methods in a November 20,21 update.
According to the X website, Everyday Robots was founded with the original goal of creating a robot that could perform many tasks in a variety of environments. Robots can use machine learning and cameras to assess their environment and place their arms to perform simple tasks.
Wired spoke to ex-Everyday Robots employees and found that the decision to close Everyday Robots was part of larger cost-cutting initiatives Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced last week, which included the laying off of 12,000 employees.
Google and Everyday Robots did not respond immediately to Wired’s request. However, a spokesperson for Alphabet stated that the project would no longer exist as a separate entity, but that some staff and technology would be retained in existing Google robotics programs.
Also, the robots had language models such as ChatGPT technology incorporated into their abilities so that it could understand and respond to verbal commands.
Wired reports that many of Everyday Robots’ 200 employees were not sure if their main goal was to develop new technology or create a robot that could be sold for consumers.
Wired was told by a former employee that it was a sad decision to close the company. “We are beginning to see that robots have the ability to do meaningful work in a general manner. It’s not a sign that there isn’t progress. If you have the right focus, you can create a product that is meaningful in five years.