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Alphabet旗下机器人公司迎来新掌舵人

Alphabet旗下机器人公司迎来新掌舵人

EMMA HINCHLIFFE 2021年07月28日
Intrinsic的目标是有朝一日让缺乏足够资金或资源为自己的专业机器编程的企业也能用上机器人。

温迪•谭•怀特,机器人公司Intrinsic首席执行官。图片来源:COURTESY OF INTRINSIC

Alphabet神秘的X研发部门(前身为谷歌X)的大多数项目没能走出实验室。但有时,一些诸如自动驾驶汽车、疾病预防等天方夜谭式的想法(谷歌称之为登月项目)会取得突破,成为这家科技巨头的新公司。

工业机器人项目Intrinsic是最近一个从X部毕业、成为Alphabet新独立业务的登月项目。Alphabet在接受《财富》杂志独家采访时表示,随着Intrinsic走入下一阶段,成为Alphabet的"其他赌注"(Other Bets),即谷歌以外的其他重要业务,新公司也将迎来自己的首席执行官:科技行业经验丰富的创始人、投资人和高管温迪•谭•怀特。

“我一直致力于实现技术的大众化。”谭•怀特说,“如果我们能开放工业机器人的使用,将从根本上彻底改变世界的制造和生产方式。”

上世纪90年代末,谭•怀特与他人共同创立了Moonfruit,并担任首席执行官,这家英国公司是第一家让不会编程的用户也可以创建网站的公司。之后,她也曾为其他初创公司工作,包括欧洲P2P借贷网站Zopa.com和互联网银行Egg.com。近年来,谭•怀特一直专注于机器人和生物技术的投资。两年半前,她从英国搬到加州,加入X,担任副总裁。

目前为止,谭•怀特在Alphabet一直担任X项目的导师——有些项目是公开的,有些保密。除了Intrinsic项目,她还帮助开发了Tidal,该项目的目的是通过机器感知工具和水下摄像机来保护海洋。

她担任Intrinsic的首席执行官后,将不再负责其他项目的业务。这家新公司的雄心是让企业能够轻松地给机器人编程(如制造类机器人),让它们完成任务。比如说,不需要给每台机器编程让它们“旋转90度”来完成安装任务,只需指示制造机器人“旋转螺丝,直到拧紧为止”即可。

“完全是科幻小说里的场景,”阿斯特罗•特勒解释说。是他把X项目经营为Alphabet的“登月船长”,也是他聘用了谭•怀特。

Intrinsic还没有发布产品,它专注于机器人软件,而非硬件。该公司的诞生源于Alphabet在机器人领域的投入(也包括收购),总方向可以分为三类:“辅助、移动和制造”。Intrinsic属于“制造”类。

从某些方面看,Intrinsic的使命与现年50岁的谭怀特创建了近20年的公司类似。Moonfruit的目标是帮助没有专业知识的人创建互联网网页,与之类似,Intrinsic的目标是有朝一日让缺乏足够资金或资源为自己的专业机器编程的企业也能用上机器人。这样一来,即使没有自己的机器人技术,公司也更容易入门,现有制造商也能更快做出调整,举个例子,这项技术在新冠肺炎疫情初期对企业而言会非常有用。

谭怀特将加入Waymo联合首席执行官特科德拉•马瓦卡拉的行列,成为掌管Alphabet旗下企业的极少数有色人种女性,Alphabet内部同级别的职位有十几个。在英国,谭怀特于2016年被伊丽莎白女王二世授予英帝国勋章,以表彰她在科技和商业方面的贡献,包括她对科技领域女性的支持。“我很重视这份工作。”谭怀特说,“我知道,Alphabet是一家在世界上十分有影响力的大公司。”(财富中文网)

译者:Agatha

Alphabet神秘的X研发部门(前身为谷歌X)的大多数项目没能走出实验室。但有时,一些诸如自动驾驶汽车、疾病预防等天方夜谭式的想法(谷歌称之为登月项目)会取得突破,成为这家科技巨头的新公司。

工业机器人项目Intrinsic是最近一个从X部毕业、成为Alphabet新独立业务的登月项目。Alphabet在接受《财富》杂志独家采访时表示,随着Intrinsic走入下一阶段,成为Alphabet的"其他赌注"(Other Bets),即谷歌以外的其他重要业务,新公司也将迎来自己的首席执行官:科技行业经验丰富的创始人、投资人和高管温迪•谭•怀特。

“我一直致力于实现技术的大众化。”谭•怀特说,“如果我们能开放工业机器人的使用,将从根本上彻底改变世界的制造和生产方式。”

上世纪90年代末,谭•怀特与他人共同创立了Moonfruit,并担任首席执行官,这家英国公司是第一家让不会编程的用户也可以创建网站的公司。之后,她也曾为其他初创公司工作,包括欧洲P2P借贷网站Zopa.com和互联网银行Egg.com。近年来,谭•怀特一直专注于机器人和生物技术的投资。两年半前,她从英国搬到加州,加入X,担任副总裁。

目前为止,谭•怀特在Alphabet一直担任X项目的导师——有些项目是公开的,有些保密。除了Intrinsic项目,她还帮助开发了Tidal,该项目的目的是通过机器感知工具和水下摄像机来保护海洋。

她担任Intrinsic的首席执行官后,将不再负责其他项目的业务。这家新公司的雄心是让企业能够轻松地给机器人编程(如制造类机器人),让它们完成任务。比如说,不需要给每台机器编程让它们“旋转90度”来完成安装任务,只需指示制造机器人“旋转螺丝,直到拧紧为止”即可。

“完全是科幻小说里的场景,”阿斯特罗•特勒解释说。是他把X项目经营为Alphabet的“登月船长”,也是他聘用了谭•怀特。

Intrinsic还没有发布产品,它专注于机器人软件,而非硬件。该公司的诞生源于Alphabet在机器人领域的投入(也包括收购),总方向可以分为三类:“辅助、移动和制造”。Intrinsic属于“制造”类。

从某些方面看,Intrinsic的使命与现年50岁的谭怀特创建了近20年的公司类似。Moonfruit的目标是帮助没有专业知识的人创建互联网网页,与之类似,Intrinsic的目标是有朝一日让缺乏足够资金或资源为自己的专业机器编程的企业也能用上机器人。这样一来,即使没有自己的机器人技术,公司也更容易入门,现有制造商也能更快做出调整,举个例子,这项技术在新冠肺炎疫情初期对企业而言会非常有用。

谭怀特将加入Waymo联合首席执行官特科德拉•马瓦卡拉的行列,成为掌管Alphabet旗下企业的极少数有色人种女性,Alphabet内部同级别的职位有十几个。在英国,谭怀特于2016年被伊丽莎白女王二世授予英帝国勋章,以表彰她在科技和商业方面的贡献,包括她对科技领域女性的支持。“我很重视这份工作。”谭怀特说,“我知道,Alphabet是一家在世界上十分有影响力的大公司。”(财富中文网)

译者:Agatha

Most projects in Alphabet's secretive X research and development division—formerly known as Google X—never make it out of the lab. But occasionally, a "moonshot" idea like self-driving cars or disease prevention breaks through to become a new company within the tech giant.

The latest moonshot to do just that is Intrinsic, an industrial robotics project that is "graduating" from X to become its own Alphabet business. As the project moves into this next stage as part of what Alphabet dubs "Other Bets" —businesses outside Google — Intrinsic is getting its own CEO: longtime tech founder, investor, and executive Wendy Tan White, Alphabet tells Fortune exclusively.

"I've always been about democratizing technology," says Tan White. "If we can open up the accessibility of industrial robotics, we will totally, fundamentally change how the world makes and produces things."

In the late 1990s, Tan White co-founded and served as CEO of Moonfruit, a U.K. business that was the first to offer a way to build a website without coding expertise. Since then, she has worked on other startups including the European peer-to-peer lending site Zopa.com and internet bank Egg.com. In recent years, Tan White focused on investing in robotics and biotech before she moved from the U.K. to California to join X as a vice president two-and-a-half years ago.

During her time at the company so far, Tan White acted as a mentor to X projects—some public, and some kept secret by Alphabet. In addition to working with Intrinsic, she helped develop Tidal, an effort to protect the world's oceans via machine perception tools and underwater cameras.

As she moves into this CEO role, Tan White will now be exclusively focused on Intrinsic. The new company's ambitious goal is to make it possible for companies to be able to easily program robots, like the kind used in manufacturing, to complete tasks. Instead of needing to program each machine to "rotate 90 degrees" to complete an installation step, for example, a company could instead instruct a manufacturing robot to "turn the screw until it's tight."

"That's complete science fiction right now," explains Astro Teller, who hired Tan White and runs X as Alphabet's "captain of moonshots."

Intrinsic doesn't yet have a product to announce, but it's focused on robotics software, not hardware. The company came out of Alphabet's work on robotics, including via acquisitions, which Alphabet separated into three categories: "help, move, and make." Intrinsic is what Alphabet called "make."

The mission is in some ways similar to the business Tan White, now 50, launched in her late 20s. Similar to how Moonfruit sought to help people without specialized knowledge to build websites on the internet, Intrinsic aims to one day make robotics accessible to businesses that lack the money or resources to program their own specialized machines. Such a change would make it easier for companies without their own robotics technology to begin working in the field and for existing manufacturers to make faster pivots — something that would have been useful in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example.

Tan White will join Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana as a rare woman of color running an Alphabet business (there are about a dozen such roles within Alphabet). In the U.K., Tan White was awarded in 2016 an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to technology and business, including supporting women in tech. "I take the responsibility seriously," says Tan White. "I know that Alphabet is a big, impactful company in the world."

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