Anki recently shut down because it, essentially, ran out of money. But the heart of this robot company will still get to live on through Waymo.
The online home goods retailer has hired 13 of Anki's robotics experts to lead its self-driving vehicle project. The new hires include Anki co-founder Boris Sofman as well as five engineers with doctorates from MIT, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon. Sofman, in a blog post, said it was autonomous driving that first sparked his attraction to robotics and was the focus of his thesis at Carnegie Mellon.
"I'm honored to be joining the team to lead the autonomous trucking engineering effort. Joining me will be 12 of my former teammates from Anki who represent much of the initial technical team. We’ll be based out of Waymo’s San Francisco offices where we hope to grow the team in the years ahead."
The team plans to pursue the mission of bringing self-driving cars and trucks to the world, according to Sofman. However, Waymo, which has been quietly operating in this space for some time, hasn't detailed what it's been up to lately. In the past, it teased commercial trucks, likely for a delivery network, and it also mentioned disrupting ride-hailing, public transit, and personal vehicles.
According to Axios, Sofman will report to Waymo CTO Dmitri Dolgov, and he and his team will work from the Waymo San Francisco office.
Axios also noted Sonos recently hired a large chunk of Anki's engineers in May. Anki, founded in 2013, was most known for its smartphone-controlled toys, such as the Vector, a £249 small robot equipped with Alexa and sensory hardware.