Don’t worry, Spot isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
In a nutshell: Today, Boston Dynamics received new leadership after Hyundai and SoftBank agreed to buy an 80 percent controlling share in the robotics business. The firm will continue to manufacture and lease robots, but Hyundai intends to broaden its reach and use its experience in other areas.
Korean car manufacturer Hyundai announced that it had closed a deal to purchase controlling stock in US robot maker Boston Dynamics. The company, well-known for its Spot quadruped robot, was wholly owned by SoftBank. Hyundai entered into negotiations with the holding company in November 2020.
By December, Hyundai had agreed to a $880 million transaction for an 80 percent controlling share in Boston Dynamics valued at $1.1 billion. The remaining 20% will be retained by a SoftBank subsidiary. Hyundai finalised the acquisition on Monday and now has full ownership of the robot manufacturer.
— Boston Dynamics (@BostonDynamics) June 21, 2021
This is the third time that Boston Dynamics has changed hands. Alphabet, Google’s parent firm, was the first to express interest in the MIT-created business, buying it in 2013 for an estimated $500 million. SoftBank, a Japanese technology holding corporation, then purchased the company in 2017 for an unknown price.
Hyundai’s acquisition of BD is one step in its goal to provide “smart-mobility solutions.” These solutions include autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, urban air mobility, smart factories, and robotics. The carmaker plans to use BD to “create a robotics value chain, from robot component manufacturing to smart logistics solutions.”
Boston Dynamics will not discontinue producing commercial robots as a result of Hyundai’s ambition. On the contrary, the new parent intends to extend BD’s present product line’s global sales and service presence. Its Spot robot is now used in a variety of industries, including construction, electricity, utilities, manufacturing, oil, gas, and mining. The artificial dog was even temporarily employed by the New York Police Department, but the NYPD discontinued its contract with Boston Dynamics amid public outrage.