Softbank finally found a client, Hyundai buys Boston Dynamics for $1.1B. This transaction has been rumored since November and it has finally been made official. South Korean company will own 80% of Boston Dynamics and Softbank will keep 20% through one of its subsidiaries.
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The transaction is valued at $1.1B. Boston Dynamics was born at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1992, then it was bought by Alphabet (Google) in 2013, then the project passed to Softbank’s portfolio in 2017, and now it finally ends up in the hands of Hyundai.
Boston Dynamics is an engineering and robotics company specialized in the design and construction of robots. Some of their most well-known devices are Spot, which is shaped like a dog. We have seen it working even in construction. And there’s a model called Atlas, which is more humanoid in appearance and capable of doing somersaults and parkour maneuvers. It is a company that matches Hyundai’s vision of the future.
Hyundai is also a company that invests in robotics. Until the beginning of the year, it had a division called Hyundai Robotics, but in May it became a company with its own entity with the objective of boosting sales and profiling the capabilities of intelligent factories and industrial robots. CEO of Hyundai Motor Group, Chung Eui-sun has given a statement:
“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.”
Chung Eui-sun, who was appointed CEO of Hyundai Motor Group last October, has been very supportive of investment in robotics on several occasions. For example, Chung believes that robotics will represent 20% of the company’s business in the future, and at the beginning of the year, he confirmed that the group will invest 100 trillion won (about 86 billion dollars) in, among other things, robotics, last-mile delivery robots, and future mobility. By 2025, the company is expected to invest $1.4 billion in robotics.
However, one of the strengths of the South Korean company is car manufacturing, a process in which robots play an important role. It is possible that the objective of the purchase of Boston Dynamics (Chung Eui-sun’s first as CEO) is to implement devices such as Atlas or Handle in its logistics process.
However, Chung Eui-sun’s company says that “Hyundai Motor Group will provide Boston Dynamics a strategic partner affording access to Hyundai Motor Group’s in-house manufacturing capability and cost benefits stemming from efficiencies of scale. Boston Dynamics will benefit substantially from new capital, technology, affiliated customers, and Hyundai Motor Group’s global market reach enhancing commercialization opportunity for its robot products.”