Google Crabots Will Configure New Headquarters

May 17, 2015

New Google headquarters will use crabots - robot crane hybrids - to configure its interior space.


Imagine a translucent canopy held aloft by columns. Trees, landscaping, cafes and bicycle paths weave through these canopied structures in a bid to blur the distinction between office and nature. Within that light and airy space, an army of Google crabots — robot crane hybrids — will scurry about, configuring and re configuring the interior landscape to suit the ever changing needs of a company that is leading the world into the digital future.

That’s what Google has proposed to the city fathers of Mountain View, California — ground zero of Silicone Valley — according to Architecture & Design. Their proposal says, “We have studied different options to create a lightweight, flexible and ‘hackable’ system for the building of the interior structures. Our objective is to create a solution that can be assembled efficiently and economically within pre-erected canopy structures by means of small, easily maneuverable cranes.”

New Google headquarters will use crabots - robot crane hybrids - to configure its interior space.Each monocoque would weigh no more than 1o tons, which is the maximum capacity of the small crane-bots. “The monocoque system has been tested in each of the buildings of this submittal and has proved a flexible and resilient system to various degrees of ‘hacking’ and customizing,” the proposal told the Mountain View Council. “We have developed special edge clip-on components with the monocoque system that allow to cantilever the floor plates out from the columns.”

In theory, the interior work spaces of the new building concept, engineered and designed by Bjarke Ingels’ BIG and Thomas Heatherwick’s Heatherwick Studio, could be moved about as easily as Lego blocks to suit the needs of the company as it moves into new and unique fields.

If it decides to take its autonomous driving automobile from concept car to production vehicle, it would need to expand its design and engineering staff. Send in the crabots and the job can be accomplished quickly and efficiently in a matter of weeks rather than months and for a lot less money, too. If it decides to dive into space exploration, it can create a whole new department and place its people wherever they need to be within the main cocoon of the greater Google headquarters quickly and easily.

Information is power, they say, and Google has a greater storehouse of information than any commercial enterprise in the history of the world. It knows every website you have ever visited, how long you stayed and whether you purchased anything while you were there. It may know more about you than the NSA. All that information gives it enormous power to effect social change.

Despite soaring to new heights in information technology, here on Earth there is one thing all that power cannot do. It cannot make more land. Google’s plans for its futuristic home have been stymied for the moment by the fact that LinkedIn has bought up most of the available land where Google intended to build its dream headquarters, leaving only enough available for one building instead of the proposed four.

Unless something changes, Silicon Valley’s most famous resident may have to set up shop outside Silicon Valley.

Photo Credits: Google



Stephen Hanley

lives in Rhode Island and writes about topics at the convergence of technology and ecology. You can follow him on Google + and Twitter.