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Automaker Hyundai Completes its Acquisition of Robotics Firm Boston Dynamics

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【Summary】South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Corp announced it completed its acquisition of robotics company Boston Dynamics. Hyundai acquired the controlling interest of the company from Japan’s Softbank Group Corp. The company is known for its advanced mobile robots that can walk, jump and perform tasks like humans.

Eric Walz    Jun 21, 2021 10:30 AM PT
Automaker Hyundai Completes its Acquisition of Robotics Firm Boston Dynamics
Boston Dynamics build robots to perform human tasks.

South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Corp announced it completed its acquisition of robotics company Boston Dynamics. Hyundai acquired the controlling interest of the company from Japan's Softbank Group Corp.

The deal values the Waltham, Massachusetts-based robotics firm at $1.1 billion. 

Post-closing, Hyundai holds an 80% stake in Boston Dynamics and SoftBank, through one of its affiliates, retains the remaining 20% stake. Additional financial details were not disclosed.

Boston Dynamics' mission is to develop advanced robots that can enrich people's lives. The company is known for its advanced mobile robots that can walk, jump and perform tasks eerily like humans. The company was founded in 1992 and spun out of the MIT Leg Lab, which develops robots that use "legs" to better maneuver.   

The robots move with the mobility, dexterity and agility of humans in performing tasks and reduce the danger to human workers in repetitive, physically demanding or hazardous environments. The robots can greatly increase safety in industrial workplaces that are hazardous to humans, such as oil and gas production, nuclear energy and construction.

The Boston Dynamic robots have already been successfully integrated into business operations of many of the world's leading industrial firms, the company said. 

By acquiring Boston Dynamics, Hyundai is securing a leading presence in the field of robotics, bringing the company closer to its goal of becoming a smart mobility solution provider. 

Hyundai has already invested heavily in the development of future technologies, including electric vehicles, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence (AI), Urban Air Mobility (UAM), smart factories and now robotics.

In the field of robotics, Hyundai aims to develop advanced technologies that enhance people's lives. It's a goal that's also shared by automaker Toyota, in which advanced mobility technology including self-driving cars, robotics and AI can be utilized to improve people's lives all around the world. 

The deal is also expected to allow the two companies to leverage each other's respective strengths in manufacturing, logistics, construction and automation. 

Hyundai and Boston Dynamics aim to create a robotics value chain, from robot component manufacturing to smart logistics solutions. Hyundai will support Boston Dynamics' continued expansion of its product line and global sales and service footprint. 

Boston Dynamics launched its first commercial robot named "Spot" in June of 2020. The 65-pound four-legged Spot resembles a dog and walks on its four robotic legs. Since its introduction, the company has deployed hundreds of Spot robots operating in a variety of industries, including power utilities, construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining. 

Spot can walk, climb stairs, avoid obstacles, traverse difficult terrain, and autonomously follow preset routes with little or no input from users. It can also collect 2D and 3D information with on board-sensors. The robot can be controlled remotely using a tablet device using a video feed from embedded stereo cameras.

Boston Dynamics also offers a Software Development Kit (SDK) to control the robot, access onboard sensor data, and integrate with Spot's autonomous system. Developers can also add custom sensors or extra compute power to Spot through mechanical, electrical, communication, and software interfaces to better serve their unique needs.

The company's newest robot is named "Stretch." It was unveiled in March and is the first commercial robot specifically designed to perform tasks in warehouse and distribution centers. 

Stretch can unload boxes from trucks or pallets and perform other common warehousing tasks. It was designed to support warehouse automation, a fast-growing market fueled by the increase in e-commerce.

Boston Dynamics is currently seeking customers to pilot test deployments of Stretch with truck unloading tasks ahead of its commercial deployment in 2022. 


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