In a nutshell: Today, Boston Dynamics fell under new leadership as Hyundai closed a deal with SoftBank to take an 80-percent controlling stake in the robotics firm. The company will continue making and leasing robots, but Hyundai plans to expand its reach and leverage its expertise in other endeavors.
Korean car manufacturer Hyundai announced that it had closed a deal to purchase controlling stock in US robot maker Boston Dynamics. The company, well-known for its Spot quadruped robot, was wholly owned by SoftBank. Hyundai entered into negotiations with the holding company in November 2020.
By December, Hyundai had agreed to an 80-percent controlling stake in Boston Dynamics valued at $1.1 billion—an $880 million deal. A SoftBank affiliate will retain the remaining 20 percent. On Monday, Hyundai completed the transaction and now has official control over the robot maker.
This acquisition marks the third time Boston Dynamics has changed hands. Google's parent company Alphabet was the first to show interest in the MIT-create company, purchasing it for a reported $500 million in 2013. Japanese tech holding firm SoftBank then picked up the company in 2017 for an undisclosed sum.
Hyundai's acquisition of BD is one step in its goal to provide "smart-mobility solutions." These solutions include autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, urban air mobility, smart factories, and robotics. The carmaker plans to use BD to "create a robotics value chain, from robot component manufacturing to smart logistics solutions."
Hyundai's vision does not mean that Boston Dynamics will stop making commercial robots. On the contrary, the new parent plans to expand BD's global sales and service footprint for its current product line. Its Spot robot is currently deployed across several industries, including construction, power, utilities, manufacturing, oil, gas, and mining. The robotic dog was even briefly used by law enforcement in New York, but the NYPD canceled its contract with Boston Dynamics after public backlash.