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Google wants out of the creepy military robot business

Boston Dynamics is up for sale. Meanwhile: Look at these terrifying robots!

Boston Dynamics | YouTube
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

It’s the stuff paranoid fever dreams are made of: Google’s big brains, plus scary robots made with the military in mind.

And for a couple years, it was real!

But now, it seems, no longer: Bloomberg reports that Google wants to sell off Boston Dynamics, the robot company it acquired in 2013. When Google bought Boston Dynamics, it was making scary/cool robots for the U.S. military, and while Google said it didn’t want to make robots for the military in the long run, it would honor its existing contracts.

So that notion, coupled with images like this:

was enough to keep you awake at night. If you’re the kind of person that thought about that stuff.

Perhaps you thought about it recently, when Boston Dynamics released a video of one of its robots staggering through the snow and getting up after getting knocked down by a scientist/goon with a hockey stick:

Boston Dynamics was part of a wave of robot M&A overseen by former Google exec Andy Rubin. But Rubin left Google in 2014, and since then Google’s robot efforts, called Replicant, have floundered.

Late last year, Google shifted the sprawling and disheveled robotics division into Google X in an effort to give it a more tangible market strategy. But Boston Dynamics didn’t join, according to Bloomberg.

Under the new Alphabet structure, CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat are trying to shorten the timelines — and control the costs — of Google’s more outlandish projects. Sweet dreams!

This article originally appeared on

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