South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer, Hyundai Motor and its subsidiaries have reportedly agreed to purchase an 80 percent stake in robot maker Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group Corporation for an amount between $736-$828 million.
According to the report, a 20 percent share in Boston Dynamics will be owned by Chairman Euisun Chung, while Hyundai Motor and its subsidiaries, Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis, will have a combined 60 percent stake in the company. Both Hyundai Motor and SoftBank refused to comment on the deal.
Through the acquisition, Hyundai will become the new proprietor of Boston Dynamics, which was acquired by Google in 2013 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, and later sold to Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company, SoftBank in 2017. The company’s products include a four-legged dog-like robot named spot, which can easily climb the stairs.
Spot received much media attention from different parts of the world, even though they were struggled to develop a commercial business. Customers include Ford Motor Company, which in July leased two Spot robots as part of its pilot program.
The deal is Softbank’s new pullback from operating companies as CEO Masayoshi Zone focuses on investment. Chairman Chung of Hyundai Motor Group said last October that the robotics sector would account for 20 percent of the future market of the firm, with car making taking up 50 percent, followed by urban air mobility at 30 percent.
Moon Kwan-Yong, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities said, “This is part of Hyundai’s plan to expand its business to robots and not be limited to car manufacturing, with competitors such as Honda and Toyota developing their own robots for years.”