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Google plans to use robots, cranes to manipulate modular offices at its new HQ

Its visions of “crabots” accentuate the search-engine giant’s recent fascination with robotics and automation.

March 11, 2015 |
Google plans to use robots, cranes to manipulate modular offices at its new HQ

Rendering courtesy Google

Google’s plans for its new headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., include using small cranes and robotic machines that are capable of reconfiguring interior modular spaces, as needs change, within hours.

According to its development application, the search-engine giant envisions a headquarters with four large structures, built on 3 million sf of land. Each would be scaled as an entire city block and draped with glass canopies. The first site, called The Landings, would start construction by 2020, with the other structures to be started within the following four years. 

Each structure’s floors, walls, ceilings, and other interior elements would be attachable to and detachable from permanent steel frames, so that whole new workspaces could be formed and manipulated, not unlike moving around office furniture.



The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Google intends to install cranes and robots, known as “crabots,” within these buildings to lift and move around the modular components. The Business Journal could not ascertain whether the crabots are still on the drawing board or exist as practical tools. And Google, in its documents, isn’t revealing much, as it only suggests that a specialized crabot could be developed and manufactured by combining the latest crane and robot technology. 

It’s worth remembering, though, that Google bought eight robotics companies in 2012 and 2013, including Boston Dynamics, which has designed research robots for the Pentagon. Google has also been testing self-driving cars since 2009. 

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