Google has put its robot business Boston Dynamics up for sale, according to reports, signalling a significant dialling down of its research in the area for parent company Alphabet.
The division, bought by Google in 2013, is on the market as it's unlikely to be able to put a product on the market soon, Bloomberg reports, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Boston Dynamics has released several videos of its progress with robots, demonstrating movements over difficult terrain and most recently defending itself against a human bully.
The creation of Alphabet as a holding company was designed to separate Google from its other "moonshot" parts to make it more transparent which parts of the business are making money.
Boston Dynamics is part of what's known as Replicant, a collection of several robot businesses Google has acquired over the years. That in turn is part of the moonshot Google X lab.
There have been several reports over the last year of disquiet at Replicant which has been ruderless since Andy Rubin left in 2014.
The Bloomberg report cites leaked documents of internal Google meetings detailing problems at the firm. According to emails, the release of the human-like robot video in February caused concern and Google distanced itself from the film.
“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs… we don’t want to trigger a whole separate media cycle about where BD really is at Google," a Google spokesperson wrote, according to the report.
“We’re not going to comment on this video because there’s really not a lot we can add, and we don’t want to answer most of the Qs it triggers."