Google Fires Robot Janitors Amid Company-Wide Layoffs
With the recent widespread layoffs in tech companies, Google has gone a step further, by firing its robot janitors.
This particular news might shock some, given the odd nature of the recipients of the sack letter.
Before this time, working in the tech sector seemed synonymous with job security; but even robots may not be safe from layoffs.
According to reports, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has laid off its janitor robots. These robots were responsible for cleaning cafeterias at the company’s headquarters.
It also comes a month after the company laid off 12,000 human workers, about 6 percent of its workforce.
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CEO Sundar Pichai stated in a memo to staff that the company had reviewed its products, people, and priorities. This would then lead to job cutting across geographies and tech.
“The fact that these changes will affect the lives of Googlers rests heavily on me, and I take complete responsibility for the decisions that led us here,” said Mr. Pichai.
Alphabet has spent the last few years working on an integrated hardware and software learning system, which includes knowledge transfer from the virtual to the physical world.
Using machine language approaches such as collaborative learning, reinforcement learning, and learning from demonstration.
Slowly, the robots were able to have a better understanding of their environment and became more suited to carrying out routine tasks.
What Did These Robot Janitors Do?
Alphabet’s latest subsidiary, “Everyday Robots,” is a team responsible for training over 100 wheeled, one-armed robots to clean cafeteria tables, separate trash for recycling, and open doors.
These robots also assisted with keeping the conference room clean during the pandemic. Like most companies, Google did announce its closure as part of the budget cuts sweeping the parent company, according to a report.
“Everyday Robots will cease to be a separate project within Alphabet. Part of the technology and the team will be consolidated into current robotics efforts within Google Research,” said Denise Gamboa, Director of Marketing and Communications for Everyday Robots.
Alphabet has yet to disclose which Everyday Robots assets and team members it will move to other research teams after the announcement that the project wouldn’t be standing on its own.
What Led to the Decision?
The costs were becoming very expensive for Alphabet, whose more speculative “options,” such as Everyday Robots and Waymo, lost about $6.1 billion last year.
The overall profit fell 21 percent to $60 billion last year as Google advertising spending dropped.
With such results, investors have been clamoring for the company to make cuts. According to robotics experts, each robot will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars.
To cut costs and maximize office space, workers at Google might have to share their work desks with other workers.
As reported in several news outlets, workers may have to rotate work days to accommodate each other and ensure workspaces are not overcrowded.
The job losses at the company have affected engineering, product, and recruiting teams as well as some corporate functions.
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