Cost-cutting Alphabet lays off robots that cleaned cafeteria

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Even the robots don’t have job security at Google parent Alphabet.

The tech giant pulled the plug on high-priced automatons — which separated trash and squeegeed cafeteria tables — created by robotics subsidiary Everyday Robots as part of companywide budget cuts, according to a report in Wired.

“Everyday Robots will no longer be a separate project within Alphabet,” Denise Gamboa, the head of Everyday Robots’ marketing and communications division, told The Post.

“Some of the technology and part of the team will be consolidated into existing robotics efforts within Google Research,” she added

Everyday Robots once employed more than 200 people, according to Wired. But the division failed to articulate a clear vision as managers couldn’t decide if they wanted to focus on advanced research or whether they hoped to bring a product to market.

The robots that the division produced were too expensive for ordinary customers, with each valued at tens of thousands of dollars, according to Wired.

Everyday Robots once employed more than 200 people.Alphabet

In 2021, Hans Peter Brøndmo, the chief robot officer and the general manager of the Everyday Robots project, published a blog post announcing that his team had trained more than 100 robots that were “autonomously performing a range of useful tasks around our offices.”

“The same robot that sorts trash can now be equipped with a squeegee to wipe tables and use the same gripper that grasps cups can learn to open doors,” Brøndmo wrote.

Everyday Robots was the brainchild of X, Alphabet’s “moonshot” research and development factory which in recent years has been forced to shutter projects that were deemed economically unviable.

In 2021, X closed down its Loon division, which manufactured balloons that were equipped with internet-beaming capabilities.

A year prior, Alphabet pulled the plug on Makani, which made kites that were capable of generating electricity through the use of mini-wind turbines.

Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car project, is slowly but surely making inroads into major markets. Its cars are now operating in test mode in three cities — Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco.

Everyday Robots was a division that operated out of Alphabet’s X “moonshot” research and development unit.Alphabet

But the robotaxi division is up against government regulators who are skittish about allowing the new technology onto the roads — particularly in light of recent accidents that have been blamed on autonomous mechanisms within certain cars.

The closure of Everyday Robots comes as Alphabet has been tightening its belt amid an economic downturn.

Google recently laid off some 12,000 employees as the company tightens its belt during trying macroeconomic times.AFP

Last month, Alphabet announced that it would be laying off some 12,000 workers — joining other tech titans such as Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, Meta, Salesforce, Snap, and others.

Scores of Google employees at the company’s struggling Cloud division were told earlier this week that they needed to share desks and alternate days they come into the office so that they do not overlap with their deskmates, according to a memo obtained by CNBC.

Alphabet’s workforce ballooned during the pandemic to nearly 187,000 people by late last year from 119,000 at the end of 2019, according to the most recent regulatory filings.

Earlier this month, shares of Alphabet plunged by more than 7% and the company’s market capitalization dropped by some $100 billion after its flubbed rollout of ChatGPT rival Bard.

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