Google is now using Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision, also known as Foxconn, to create its new fleet of robots.
Foxconn has been working closely with Google's Andy Rubin since last year, the Wall Street Journal reported using an unnamed source. Rubin reportedly met with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou to discuss the new venture and created robotics for manufacturing or assembling electronics.
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Google bought eight robotics companies already, and seems to be seriously heading into the direction of robotics. But it seems the interest is largely in keeping costs down in the developing world -- by automating and displacing Chinese workers who are demanding more rights, higher wages and better working conditions, according to the report. (Foxconn is known for creating "suicide nets" slung against buildings to prevent distraught employees from jumping to their deaths.)
The cooperation comes as Foxconn has been striving to accelerate automation efforts at its factories amid challenges of rising labor costs and workplace disputes in China, where it has more than a million workers.
“Foxconn needs Google’s help to step up automation at its factories as the company has the lowest sales per employee among the contract makers, given its large workforce,” Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Securities told the WSJ. “Using robots to replace human workers would be the next big thing in the technology industry.”
Essentially, Foxconn will be Google's beta-test to see if it all works before selling a new automated operating system to other high-tech manufacturers.