Hyundai Motor Group to Acquire Controlling Interest in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group
Hyundai Motor Group announces that they plan to acquire controlling interest in Boston Dynamics. The deal values Boston Dynamics at $1.1 billion, however, details of the transaction were not released. The addition of Boston Dynamics’ intellectual property and Hyundai’s brand and deep pockets ensures that the amazing innovation demonstrated by Boston Dynamics will be given the opportunity to grow and thrive.
With the announcement, Hyundai acquired a majority stake in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group. However, SoftBank Group remains a partner in Boston Dynamics. Together, these Asian giants have the ability to commercialize the advanced robotics being developed at Boston Dynamics.Under the agreement, Hyundai Motor Group will hold an approximately 80% stake in Boston Dynamics and SoftBank, through one of its affiliates, will retain an approximately 20% stake in Boston Dynamics after the closing of the transaction. Hyundai Motor Group’s affiliates – Hyundai Motor Co., Hyundai Mobis Co. and Hyundai Glovis Co. – and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung respectively participated in the acquisition.
Hyundai Enhances Its Smart Mobility Portfolio
Hyundai has been steadily on a path to becoming a Smart Mobility Solution Provider. The company has made investments in fields such as autonomous driving technology, connectivity, eco-friendly vehicles, smart factories, advanced materials, artificial intelligence (AI), and robots.“We are delighted to have Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots, join the Hyundai team. This transaction will unite capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility. The synergies created by our union offer exciting new pathways for our companies to realize our goal – providing free and safe movement and higher plane of life experiences for humanity,” said Euisun Chung, Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. “We will also contribute to the society by enhancing its safety, security, public health amid global trends of aging society and digital transformation.”Masayoshi Son, Representative Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group said, “Boston Dynamics is at the heart of smart robotics. We are thrilled to partner with Hyundai, one of the world’s leading global mobility companies, to accelerate the company’s path to commercialization. Boston Dynamics has a very bright future and we remain invested in the company’s success.”“Boston Dynamics’ commercial business has grown rapidly as we’ve brought to market the first robot that can automate repetitive and dangerous tasks in workplaces designed for human-level mobility. We and Hyundai share a view of the transformational power of mobility and look forward to working together to accelerate our plans to enable the world with cutting edge automation, and to continue to solve the world’s hardest robotics challenges for our customers,” said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics.
Boston Dynamics Robots Are Internet Stars
Boston Dynamics has two of the most recognizable robot platforms in its portfolio. Spot is a yellow, “dog like”, four legged mobile robot. Boston Dynamics was one of the first companies to demonstrate autonomy in a four legged robot platform, and they have made many popular YouTube videos over the years. Many folks observe that Spot has a “spooky intelligent” appearance, likely because it was one of the first machines to cross the boundary between inanimate objects and robots that appear to “be alive”.
Boston Dynamics Spot (l) and Atlas (r) robots (image courtesy of Boston Dynamics)
Altas was one of the early robotic platforms to be released by Boston Dynamics. Atlas is a bipedal (two legged) robot. Atlas is famous for a series of YouTube videos by Boston Dynamics engineers in which they man-handled the robot by pushing it over, hitting it with hockey sticks or large objects. Some of the videos were hard to watch as it bordered on “robot bullying”.
The company launched sales of Spot in June 2020 and has since sold hundreds of robots in a variety of industries, such as power utilities, construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining. Spot lists for $75K. Boston Dynamics plans to expand the Spot product line early next year with an enterprise version of the robot with greater levels of autonomy and remote inspection capabilities, and the release of a robotic arm, which will be a breakthrough in mobile manipulation.
Currently, Spot is finding work in the remote inspection market. In these applications, Spot carries a backpack of cameras and sensors that enable it to gather data in remote or dangerous locations, such as oil rigs.Boston Dynamics is also entering the logistics automation market with the industry leading Pick™, a computer vision-based depalletizing solution, and will introduce a mobile robot for warehouses in 2021.
The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close by June of 2021.
For more detail, read the press release on the Boston Dynamics webpage