Hyundai Buys Robot Dog Makers Boston Dynamics For $1 Billion
Boston Dynamics, the robotics company behind the world’s most famous robodog, Spot, has been sold to Hyundai Motors in a huge $1 billion acquisition.
The South Korean car giant has been focusing more and more on robotics and autonomous technology in recent years, with this latest acquisition being the third made by its robotics division since it was established in 2018.
Boston Dynamics has divided the internet with its creations, which include Spot and the humanoid robot Atlas, but whether you think they’re the stuff of nightmares, or actually kind of want one as a pet, it’s hard to deny that the company is responsible some of the most advanced and well-known robotics technology out there.
Yet, despite being one of the biggest names in robotics, Boston Dynamics hasn’t really been able to pin down stable ownership over the years. The company, which was established in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was initially acquired by Google in 2013 before being sold again to SoftBank in 2017, making this latest sale to Hyundai, which was first reported last month, its third in less than a decade.
It seems like the company have struggled to make the shift from creeping people out with its robodog demo videos to establishing itself as an actual profitable business. However, it did make a significant step forward earlier this year, with Spot officially going on sale to the public in June. The robodog, which costs almost $75,000, has been seen on all sorts of adventures, from sniffing out radiation levels in Chernobyl to waiting tables at a Spanish bar. According to The Robot Report, more than 400 Spots have been sold worldwide, netting a tidy $30 million in revenue for the outgoing owners SoftBank.
It’s not entirely clear what Hyundai has planned for Spot and Atlas, but The Korea Economic Daily reports that the company has chosen robotics as one of its three main engines for growth going forward, alongside electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell technology. In the past two years, Hyundai Robotics has also invested in autonomous vehicle startup 4dot and Boston-based Realtime Robotics with the company’s new chairman, Chung Eui-sun, saying in a town hall meeting in October that robotics would account for an estimated 20% of Hyundai’s future business.
The car company made headlines earlier this year with its ‘walking car’ concept vehicles, which, now we come to think of it, look a little bit like a giant version of a certain robot dog.
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