Hyundai buys Boston Dynamics, maker of Spot the robotic dog
Hyundai Motor Group has made a major move into the world of mobile robotics, announcing that it has acquired a majority stake in Boston Dynamics from Japanese technology firm Softbank. Most famous for its ever-impressive robotic dog named Spot, Boston Dynamics will now work together with the automaker on technologies that advance human mobility.
Boston Dynamics first put Spot on sale in June of last year, and among its stable of agile machines the dog-like quadruped is undoubtedly the star of the show. We've seen it go to work herding sheep in New Zealand, tracking the vital signs of COVID-19 patients and inspecting construction sites, to list just a few of its responsibilities.
But Boston Dynamics is no one-trick pony. It has also developed a back-flipping humanoid robot called Atlas, a leaping, wheeled robot called Handle and an advanced version of Handle called Stretch, which is optimized for warehouse work and is expected to go on sale next year.
All of this appears to have caught the eye of the Hyundai Motor Group, which reportedly entered talks last year with owner Softbank to buy the robot-maker. The deal has now been made official and values Boston Dynamics at US$1.1 billion, with Hyundai now holding an 80-percent controlling stake and leaving Softbank with the remaining 20 percent.
Hyundai describes this as another step in its transformation into a "Smart Mobility Solution Provider," to go alongside its other investments in autonomous driving, AI, urban aircraft and robotics. The two will work together on robots for wide-ranging applications, from logistics to manufacturing, while also continuing to expand Boston Dynamic's lineup of mobile machines.
The promo video for the announcement can be viewed below.