You might be familiar with Boston Dynamics as the creators of highly mobile, yet also vaguely creepy, robots (check out the video below for an example). In a surprising announcement, Hyundai Motor Group is acquiring a controlling stake of around 80 percent of the company. It's buying the shares from SoftBank Group, which retains about 20 percent ownership after this deal. The transaction gives Boston Dynamics a value of $1.1 billion.
Going forward, Boston Dynamics will continue to work on the commercialization of advanced robots. Hyundai will use the company's innovations to improve autonomous vehicles like incorporating the bots' ability to perceive their environment and to navigate safely within it. The two businesses will also work together to develop robot component manufacturing and smart logistics solutions.
Another potential advantage of this deal is that Boston Dynamics has established facilities in Boston and Silicon Valley. It opens up the possibility of Hyundai having access to this top-tier talent as future employees or finding future partners.
Gallery: Boston Dynamics Robots
"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.
In its announcement of the deal, Hyundai says that it wants to build humanoid robots eventually. Specifically, they would be for caregiving like taking care of hospital patients.
Now, Honda needs to revive Asimo so that it can go up against the Boston Dynamics Atlas in an automaker-sponsored version of robot wars. Unfortunately, Honda retired the Asimo project in 2018.