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Google to Make Cheaper Robot Workers



    FILE - In this May 26, 2010 file photo, staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, southern China. A pledge reported Thursday, March 29, 2012 by the manufacturer of Apple's iPhones and iPads to limit work hours at its factories in China could force other global corporations to hike pay for Chinese workers who produce the world's consumer electronics, toys and other goods. Foxconn Technology's promise comes as Beijing is pushing foreign companies to share more of their revenues with Chinese employees. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

    Google is now using Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision, also known as Foxconn, to create its new fleet of robots.

    Foxconn has been working closely with Google's Andy Rubin since last year, the Wall Street Journal reported using an unnamed source. Rubin reportedly met with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou to discuss the new venture and created robotics for manufacturing or assembling electronics.
    Google bought eight robotics companies already, and seems to be seriously heading into the direction of robotics. But it seems the interest is largely in keeping costs down in the developing world -- by automating and displacing Chinese workers who are demanding more rights, higher wages and better working conditions, according to the report. (Foxconn is known for creating "suicide nets" slung against buildings to prevent distraught employees from jumping to their deaths.)
    The cooperation comes as Foxconn has been striving to accelerate automation efforts at its factories amid challenges of rising labor costs and workplace disputes in China, where it has more than a million workers.
    “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,” Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Securities told the WSJ. “Using robots to replace human workers would be the next big thing in the technology industry.”
    Essentially, Foxconn will be Google's beta-test to see if it all works before selling a new automated operating system to other high-tech manufacturers.