People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that Foxconn has been working with former Android executive Andy Rubin since last year to carry out the U.S. company’s vision for robotics. To speed up robot deployment at its own factories, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou met with Rubin in Taipei recently and they discussed new robotic technologies, they said.
Guo was reportedly excited about the new automation technology demonstrated by Rubin who asked him to assist Google with integrating a company it is acquiring. The robotics group was setup at Google last year. They've acquired eight robotics companies recently including Boston Dynamics who designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon.
Foxconn's cooperation with Google is likely an effort to accelerate automation efforts at its factory where labor costs are rising and workplace issues are difficult to deal with. It's thought that Google may be working to build a new robotic operating system for manufacturers, similar to the Android operating system for mobile devices.
“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,” said Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Securities. “Using robots to replace human workers would be the next big thing in the technology industry. Not just Google, other major technology companies such as Microsoft and Amazon also have been developing robotics technology to capture the future growth opportunities.”