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Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 02:25 am PT (05:25 am ET)

Google's collaboration with Foxconn sheds light on robotics ambitions

According to a report on Tuesday, Google's Andy Rubin and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou have been discussing cutting edge robotics technology, including an operating system built to run manufacturing machines.

Rubin

Former Android chief and current head of Google's robotics arm Andy Rubin.


Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports Rubin and Gou have been collaborating on Google's robotics plans since late last year. Among the topics of discussion is a robotics operating system that could do for manufacturing what Android has done to mobile phones.

Heading the initiative is former Android chief Rubin, who was tapped to run Google's newly formed robotics team late last year. The Internet search giant is eyeing an entry into automated manufacturing and could even compete in the retail segment against industry titan Amazon, sources said.

The publication went on to say Rubin asked Gou for help in integrating the technology of a recently purchased robotics firm. Google acquired eight such companies in 2013, including the high-profile purchase of U.S. defense contractor Boston Dynamics, but until now not much was known of what the company planned to do with the robotics tech.

While a formal partnership is far from solidified, the WSJ said Foxconn's expertise in manufacturing makes it an optimal testing ground for Google's advanced robotics initiatives.

For Foxconn, the world's largest electronics manufacturer and major Apple supplier, working with Google could be the next step in a push toward production facility automation. The Taiwan-based firm is looking to roll out robots in its plants to combat rising Chinese labor costs and fallout from workplace disputes.