Hyundai Motor to purchase robotic maker Boston Dynamics from SoftBank

A robotic from Boston Dynamics walks across the stage on the WSJTECH reside convention in Laguna Seaside, California, October 21, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Hyundai Motor Group items and its chairman have agreed to purchase an 80% stake in robotic maker Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group Corp, Hyundai Motor Group stated on Friday.

Hyundai stated the deal values the robotic agency at $1.1 billion, suggesting the automaker group supplied $880 million for the 80% stake.

Hyundai can leverage robotic know-how to develop automation at its unionized automotive factories, in addition to design autonomous autos like self-driving vehicles, drones and supply robots, analysts stated.

The brand new stake comes after newly promoted Hyundai Motor Group chairman Euisun Chung pledged to scale back reliance on conventional automotive manufacturing, saying robotics would account for 20% of the corporate’s future enterprise, with car-making taking over 50%, adopted city air mobility at 30%.

Chung will personal a 20% stake in Boston Dynamics, whereas Hyundai Motor and its associates, Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis, will maintain a mixed 60% stake.

“The transaction will unite capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility,” Chung stated in a press release.

Boston Dynamics, which was spun out from the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how in 1992, was purchased Google in 2013 and offered to SoftBank in 2017.

The corporate’s merchandise embody Spot, a four-legged dog-like robotic that may climb stairs, and have gained media consideration even because it struggled to construct a industrial enterprise.

Purchasers embody Ford Motor Co, which leased two Spot robots in July as a part of a pilot program.

“Hyundai must show that Boston Dynamics will be commercially profitable and is able to competing with cheaper Chinese language rivals,” stated Koh Tae-bong, an analyst at Hello Funding & Securities.

‘Innovation race’

Final 12 months, Ford Motor stated that it was partnering with strolling robotic maker Agility Robotics because it designs a deliberate fleet of self-driving supply vans that may drop packages on the doorsteps of individuals’s houses.

The deal is the newest pullback SoftBank from working companies as CEO Masayoshi Son focuses on investing.

It additionally marks the fading of SoftBank’s robotics ambitions, which had been talked up Son, and leaves the group’s personal rump robotics enterprise, which incorporates humanoid robotic Pepper, wanting more and more remoted.

For Hyundai, that is the newest in a flurry of offers beneath Chung, who pledged to rework the automaker right into a mobility supplier, amid threats from electrical carmaker Tesla and tech companies with ride-sharing, self-driving and different applied sciences.

“Automakers are in an innovation race. Hyundai is a late-comer to the race, and it appears that evidently they wish to showcase that they will do it, slightly than making an attempt to generate cash from the robotic enterprise,” stated mobility advisor Cha Doo-won.

Hyundai Motor has developed a wearable robotic to scale back fatigue for manufacturing unit staff and ran pilot packages at its U.S. crops.

In January, Hyundai Motor introduced it had partnered with Uber to develop electrical air taxis, however the U.S. agency stated this week it will promote its loss-making flying taxi unit to Jo Aviation, an electrical passenger plane developer.

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