With robots like BigDog and the Terminator-like Atlas, Google's robotics efforts have been a smash success - if you measure by YouTube views and buzz. Amazon's work has been more behind scenes (apart from the widely discussed plans for delivery drones). But Amazon's energies in robotics have also had a more immediate payoff than Google's "moonshots." The differing philosophies illustrate how Amazon and Google have taken starkly different paths so far in the race to automate the physical world.
The growth of e-commerce increases consumer choice and flexibility, but it also challenges distribution centers to keep pace with consumers' higher expectations for faster and more accurate delivery. Nearly nine in 10 distribution center operators expect to adopt new mobile devices and voice-direction technology in the next five years to meet that need, according to a survey by Honeywell and YouGov.