(autoweek) – Hyundai Motor Company will acquire Boston Dynamics for $921 million, according to The Korea Economic Daily. The robotics company is famous for its animal and human shaped androids, each more terrifying than the last. The deal will be finalized today.
Hyundai will finance about half of the purchase price, with the affiliates paying for the remainder.
Since Chung Euisun was named chairman last October, the company has focused more heavily on robotics, with the company saying robotics will account for 20 percent of its future business (and that urban air mobility will account for 30 percent!). In 2017 it created the Hyundai Robotics department, but it didn’t officially launch until this year. That group also invested in vehicle startup 42dot and Realtime Robotics, both in 2019.This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.https://www.youtube.com/embed/bmNaLtC6vkU?start=0&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://www.autoweek.com
As for Boston Dynamics, it’s the third time it has been sold in 7 years. It was acquired by Google in 2013 and Softbank in 2017. The robot maker spun off from MIT to become its own company in 1992.
We’ve reached out to both Boston Dynamics and Hyundai for comment, but since the deal is so fresh, Hyundai could only add this: “As a global business entity, Hyundai Motor is continuously exploring various investment and partnership opportunities.As company policy, we do not comment on market speculation.”
Last year Boston Dynamics purchased Kinema Systems, based in Menlo Park, California. Kinema focuses on vision sensors and deep learning to help robots manipulate boxes. It was rebranded as the Boston Dynamics Pick System. In June of this year BD started selling its creepy Spot quadruped robot at $74,500 apiece.
One funny question from Boston Dynamics’ FAQ page: Will your robots be modified for in-home use?
“Spot is a powerful, 65 lb. industrial robot. It is intended for industrial and commercial use, by individuals with proper training who operate it in accordance with its user guide. This version is not intended for use in the home, or by children or others who cannot operate it responsibly. However, we may explore consumer-facing applications of a future variant of this robot as early as 2022.”
The big question is, ‘how will this help Hyundai?’
Obviously, anything having to do with computer cameras and processing can be useful to an automaker. Boston Dynamics’ robots are trained to see difficult terrain and dangerous edges and navigate around or over them. That’s certainly useful for troublesome roads. The software to control all of it can be adapted as well. As for the hardware, we’ll have to wait and see. But don’t expect to see Atlas moving parts around in the factory.
We’ll update with more info if we hear back from Boston Dynamics.