February 13, 2014
Foxconn executives have been in talks about robotics with former Android executive Andy Rubin, specifically to discuss new robotic technologies and speed up deployment of robots in its factories. Rubin asked Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou to help integrate a tech company that’s being acquired by Google, which last year acquired eight other robotics companies. In the meeting, Gou was said to have expressed excitement over automation technologies demonstrated by Rubin.
According to The Wall Street Journal, 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 WSJ. “Using robots to replace human workers would be the next big thing in the technology industry.”
Wang adds that other companies like Microsoft and Amazon have been developing robotics technology as well.
In the near future, Foxconn plans to transform into a high-tech manufacturer that will focus on automobile and medical equipment. Gou has expressed his own ambitions to build factories with robots, the article says.
“Analysts said the partnership [between Foxconn and Rubin] makes sense as Foxconn… can provide Google the best testing ground for its new robotics technology,” WSJ reports. Foxconn has also been exploring software development and telecom services and selling its own brand of mobile accessories.