Facebook is setting up a new hardware R&D venture called Building 8 and poached the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group to lead it.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that Building 8 would focus “on building new hardware products to advance our mission of connecting the world”.
“We'll be investing hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over the next few years,” Zuckerberg said.
“I'm excited to see breakthroughs on our 10 year roadmap in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other important areas.”
The new group will be fronted by Regina Dugan, who comes from Google’s ATAP, which the company describes as “a skunkworks-inspired team chartered to deliver breakthrough innovations.”
Dugan is also well known as a former director of DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the United States, which is renowned for its robotics research among other technology domains.
“I'm excited to have Regina apply DARPA-style breakthrough development at the intersection of science and products to our mission,” Zuckerberg said.
“This method is characterised by aggressive, fixed timelines, extensive use of partnerships with universities, small and large businesses, and clear objectives for shipping products at scale.”
In a Facebook post of her own, Dugan said she saw Building 8 as a “tremendously exciting … opportunity to do what I love most … tech infused with a sense of our humanity”.
Audacious science delivered at scale in products that feel almost magic. A little badass. And beautiful,” she said.
“There is much to build at Facebook… and the mission is human… compelling.”
However, she also noted it was a “bittersweet” move and that she was “sad to leave the pirates of ATAP.”
“Each of our efforts to create new, seemingly impossible products, has been faced with intense challenges along the way,” she said.
“Technical challenges. Organisational challenges. Challenges that might have broken lesser teams.
“This is the type of work we signed up for when we built ATAP.
“It is terrifying because it means we have to face our fear of failure, stare it down, more days than most. So be it.”