Shown above is a bipedal robot named Atlas produced by Boston Dynamics. Korea’s Hyundai Motor has purchased the company from Japan’s SoftBank Group. Photo Courtesy of Boston Dynamics

Korean automaker strives to tap into futuristic mobility business

Hyundai Motor has funneled around $880 million to gobble up a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics, a mobile robot company, from Japan’s SoftBank Group.

Hyundai will own an 80 percent stake, and SoftBank will hold the remaining 20 percent stake. Hyundai Motor, its affiliates, and Group Chairman Chung Eui-sun took part in the contract.

“We are delighted to have Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots, join the Hyundai team. This transaction will unite the capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility,” Chung said.

“The synergies created by our union offer exciting new pathways for our companies to realize our goal – providing free and safe movement and higher plane of life experiences for humanity. We will also contribute to the society by enhancing its safety, security, public health amid global trends of an aging society and digital transformation.”

SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son also expressed his hype on the collaboration with Hyundai, South Korea’s largest automaker.

“Boston Dynamics is at the heart of smart robotics. We are thrilled to partner with Hyundai, one of the world’s leading global mobility companies, to accelerate the company’s path to commercialization,” Son said.

“Boston Dynamics has a very bright future, and we remain invested in the company’s success.”

Observers pointed out that the acquisition will help realize Hyundai’s goal of producing a “car with legs” to enable people to travel across difficult terrain. Thus far, it has churned out just industrial robots for a factory.

Boston Dynamics builds maneuverable mobile robots with advanced dexterity and intelligence, as shown by Spot the robot dog and a humanoid bipedal robot named Atlas.

Boston Dynamics CEO Rober Playter noted that it will “continue to solve the world’s hardest robotics challenges for our customers.”

In 1992, Boston Dynamics spun out of MIT, and Google purchased it in 2013. Four years later, SoftBank snapped up the start-up.