Hyundai Motor Company of South Korea has purchased U.S. robotics company Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group (Tokyo) for $921 million, according published reports in Korea, as yet unconfirmed by any of the three companies. The purchase price is equivalent to 1,002,564,350 Korean won at today’s exchange rate.
The Waltham, Massachusetts-based robot maker has produced the four-legged robot dog Spot, the two-wheeled warehouse mover Handle, a vision-processing depalletizer Pick, and the running, jumping whole-body humanoid Atlas.
This is the third large corporate owner for Boston Dynamics, which was founded by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Marc Raibert in 1992. Alphabet/Google bought the company in 2013 and sold it to SoftBank in 2017.
Hyundai recently predicted that robotics will account for 20% of its future business. It officially launched its Hyundai Robotics division early in 2020. It has also invested in autonomous vehicle startup 42dot and Realtime Robotics, and created a $4 billion autonomous vehicle joint venture, Motional, with auto supplier Aptiv.
In June of this year, Boston Dynamics started selling Spot for $74,500, and its various applications have been the subject of several recent Inside Unmanned Systems stories. Reported sales of more than 400 dogs have generated over $30 million.
Spot can carry up to 14kg of inspection equipment. Controllers can direct it from distance with a tablet application, taking advantage of onboard stereo cameras for monitoring. Spot can be
“trained” (programmed) to perform repeated autonomous data-gathering missions.
Serious inquiries can sign up for a chance to experience the future of robotics with a company called Formant, to spend up to an hour with the Formant team, remotely operating a Boston Dynamics Spot around San Francisco.