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Playground is betting big on robots


You find robotics in unexpected corners of Playground Global’s Palo Alto headquarters. They’re in the lobby and scattered amongst the cubicles. Inside the venture fund’s labs, an older Spot Mini stands next to RightHand Robotics’ pick and place mechanical arm.

A recent video shoot in the space shows Boston Dynamics’ latest creation meeting Playground-funded bipedal wunderkind Cassie for the first time. The former also had a run-in with Andy Rubin’s dog in the company parking lot. The poor little terrier was less impressed.

Robotics is a core part of the firm’s portfolio. No surprise, really. It was, after all, co-founder Rubin’s lifelong obsession with the technology that gave Google’s mobile operating system its name. Co-founder and CTO Peter Barrett clearly shares that enthusiasm, as he gives us a tour around the space, pointing out each and every ‘bot surrounding Playground’s delightfully on-brand slide and swings.

“They’re becoming a good investment,” the executive begins. “Robotics is really in its infancy for some of these scale applications. What’s missing has been the link between what are now tour de force controls and physical systems with the intelligence and perception to make them useful.”