In a long-awaited transaction, The New York Times Dealbook announced that SoftBank was buying Boston Dynamics from Alphabet (Google). Also included in the deal is the Japanese startup Schaft. Acquisition details were not disclosed. Both Boston Dynamics and Schaft were acquired by Google when Andy Rubin was developing Google's robot group through a series of acquisitions. Both companies have continued to develop innovative mobile robots.
We've seen Boston Dynamics' four-legged robotic dog Spot help triage patients with COVID-19, pull a rickshaw, hold the door for a fellow bot, haul a box truck, herd sheep and more. Until now, Spot was only available as a short-term lease under Boston Dynamics' Early Adopter Program, but that is changing. Businesses in the United States can now buy their very own Spot robots. Spot is meant for commercial and industrial use, and orders are subject to Boston Dynamics' terms, which require "beneficial use" of the robots. That may quell some fears about a robot takeover.
Boston Dynamics, the robotics company behind nightmare-fuel products like Spot, may be headed to Hyundai, Bloomberg reports. Sources say that current owner Softbank is in talks with the Korean automaker. The deal could be worth up to $1 billion, though Bloomberg notes that nothing is finalized yet, and the deal could eventually fall apart. Hyundai may seem like a surprising parent at first if you're only familiar with its cars, but the company also has an entire group focused on industrial robotics, where Boston Dynamics' technology would fit nicely. And Hyundai is no stranger to diving into burgeoning technology -- it just announced its New Horizons Studio for futuristic concepts.