According to the New York Times, Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, a robotics engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon.
The company, based in Waltham, Mass, has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even.
Products that the firm has demonstrated in recent years include BigDog, a motorized robot that can handle ice and snow, an animal-like robot called Cheetah that can run at 29 mile-per-hour and an eerily convincing humanoid known as PETMAN.
Specific details about the price and terms of the deal are currently unknown, though Google has said that existing contracts — including a $10.8 million contract inked earlier this year with the US Defense Agency Research Projects Agency (DARPA) — would be honored.
Despite the DARPA deal, Google says it doesn't plan to become a military contractor "on its own".
Boston Dynamics began as a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, and quickly started working on projects for the military.
In a tweet, Google's Andy Rubin — who led the development of Android’s operating system — said the "future is looking awesome."
It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection.
Boston Dynamics has also designed robots that can climb walls and trees as well as other two- and four-legged walking robots, a neat match to Mr. Rubin’s notion that “computers are starting to sprout legs and move around in the environment.”
The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.