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Google invests in mysterious service-robot startup Savioke

Google has invested in Savioke, a Silicon Valley-based robotics company, despite the fact that the company is yet to reveal its first product.

Although Savioke is currently zipped about specifics, the company has plans to start consumer testing a service industry-targeted machine this year.

It's one of a host of companies acquired by Google over the past year and though the recent deal is relatively small, experts have pointed to a consequent boost in confidence in the sector.

Savioke has revealed a total $2 million (£1.2m) of seed finance, consisting of a private sum from Google Ventures and money from other sources.

Savioke is still in its infancy, having only been established last year, but chief executive Steve Cousins' experience includes the launch of the PR2 robotics development platform during his time at the top of the now-defunct startup Willow Garage.

There is a "huge untapped opportunity" to target the service industry, Cousins told TechCrunch.

"Hospitals, elder care facilities, hotels, restaurants, office services all provide large opportunities for robots to take on dirty, dull and dangerous work, improve process efficiency, reduce cost, and most importantly free up people to help other people," he continued.

All but one of Savioke's employees are ex-Willow Garage, many having followed their CEO into new robotic territories.

"As the lines continue to blur between industrial and personal robotics industries, Google Ventures is thrilled to be working with an exceptional group of people at Savioke," noted Andy Wheeler, a general partner at Google Ventures.

Meanwhile, a research team at MIT has developed a way for anyone to print robots out of paper, provided they have a few simple electronic components worth about $20.