A new deal between Google and Foxconn sees the search giant lending its robotics technology to Foxconn’s assembly lines.
Foxconn is the world’s largest electronics manufacturer, with the Taiwanese vendor making most consumer electronic devices at its plants in China that we use today. Apple’s iPhone is assembled at Foxconn, as is the Microsoft Xbox. In addition to these two giants, it has been revealed by The Wall Street Journal that Foxconn is working with Google in automating its assembly lines.
Google’s former head of Android Andy Rubin is said to have met with Foxconn CEO Terry Gou to “speed up deployment” of Google’s robotics technologies at Foxconn’s factories. It is also believed that in the long run, Foxconn will assist Google in integrating a technology company that Google is acquiring.
Google bought a total of eight robotic firms last year, with Boston Dynamics amongst the acquisitions. Rubin is heading the robotics initiative at Google, where one of his goals is to automate manufacturing tasks like electronics assembly. Another goal for the robotics team at Google is to “compete with companies like Amazon in retailing.”
Currently, Foxconn has a huge workforce that assembles electronic devices by hand, but that process can be automated in the future. The main motivation behind such a move is said to be rising labor costs and civil unrest in China.
The collaboration is a win-win for both organizations. Google will get the ideal testing ground to test its robotics technology, and Foxconn will be able to automate most of its assembly lines. Google is also said to be working on a robotics operating system that will be used by manufacturers, which will likely be debuted at Foxconn’s factories. Meanwhile, having an automated factory would enable Foxconn to venture into assembly of high-margin commodities like medical and automotive hardware.
Source: The Wall Street Journal