Today, BusinessInsider reported that Facebook ($FB) has deployed a "fleet of mobile robots to patrol its data centers."

The scoop was supported by job-listing data from Thinknum Media; BusinessInsider reached out to us to help verify the new team at Facebook, and we were able to confirm that Facebook has been seeking engineers to launch the robotic fleet since at least May 2019. Because, after all, someone has to watch the robots that are watching the machines.

Since last spring, jobs with the term "Site Engineering Robotics Team" began showing up in Facebook job listings. This fall, the number of job listings grew by a significant order of magnitude.

The team is being put in place to automate Facebook's massive data centers around the world. As those data centers grow, robotics will become key to the company's ability to scale out. Hence the engineering team that is deploying, monitoring, and maintaining the robotic fleet.

Ther first listing with the term appeared in April 2019 under the title "Software Engineer, Robotics & Autonomous System". It disappeared from Facebook's recruiting website on May 9, replaced on May 10 by a "Robotics & Autonomous System Engineer" position on May 10 that was kept open until September 2019, ostensibly for multiple hires. So far, a total of 14 job titles for the team have appeared on Facebook's careers sites:

Robotics Front End Engineering Intern - PhD, Infrastructure Data Centers
Robotics System Engineer
Robotics Front End Engineering Intern, Infrastructure Data Centers
Software Engineer, Robotics & Autonomous System
Robotics Engineer Intern, Infrastructure Data Centers
Mechanical Design Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Intern, Infrastructure Data Centers
Robotics Engineer Intern, Robotics Software Development
System Engineer, Robotics Engineering
Robotics Engineer Intern
Front End Application Engineer
Robotics & Autonomous Systems Engineer
Robotics Software Engineer
Robotics & Autonomous System Engineer

Facebook confirmed the new team's existence when reached for comment by BusinessInsider.

"Facebook began a program to explore the use of mobile platforms for use by engineers in data center locations," spokesperson Melanie Roe told them. "These units assist our engineers as they monitor and measure conditions inside data centers. As of today, we have deployed units to targeted locations."

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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