Google plucks an old hand off the bench to run its robotics group

Boston DynamicsBoston DynamicsA robot made by Boston Dynamics, one of the company’s Google bought

Google’s robotics division is going through another leadership shuffle.

Jonathan Rosenberg, former SVP of product during Eric Schmidt’s reign, is now leading the unit, The Information’s Jessica Lessin and Amir Efrati report.

He replaces James Kuffner, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University and long-time humanoid robotics expert, who had, in turn, taken the place of Android-founder Andy Rubin, after he left the company last fall.

Rosenberg’s position is meant to only be temporary, while Google CEO Larry Page looks for a more permanent leader, sources tell The Information. Kuffner’s position wasn’t meant to be long-term either. Admittedly, Rosenberg seems less suited for the role than Kuffner — before taking this new position, he was focused on the management book he wrote with Schmidt.

Google has made it clear that it’s willing to invest in robotics. It bought Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that creates crazy mobile research robots for the military, last December. That was the ninth robotics company it had purchased in six months. When Rubin was in charge, his goal was to eventually create robots that could act as assistants for humans.

When he left the company, The Information’s Jessica Lessin tweeted that part of the reason was that he wanted more freedom, similar to how Google’s anti-ageing company Calico acts as a completely separate unit. Instead, the robotics division functions more like an entrepreneurial side project, like Project Loon ro Google Fibre.

The Information also reports that Salar Kamangar, one of Larry Page’s lieutenants, is advising Page on what the corporate structure should be like for those non-core products, like robotics.

“The Rubin situation shows one of the challenges of running various entrepreneurial divisions,” The Information writes, “Namely holding together a vision when the figurehead leaves.”

Business Insider reached out to Google for comment and will update when we hear back.

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