Hyundai to take control of robot dog maker Boston Dynamics valued at $ 1.1 billion
Hyundai Motor Group and its chairman have agreed to buy a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group in a deal that values the US-based robot maker at $ 1.1 billion (approximately Rs. 8,111 crores).
The South Korean group of automakers said on Friday the purchase would help it expand automation in its vehicle factories and design autonomous cars, drones and robots, as it seeks to transform itself from a manufacturer into a further mobility services provider. large.
Hyundai Motor said the deal, which involves a new share issue, would give the company and its director a combined 80 percent stake in Boston Dynamics, While SoftBank will retain 20 percent.
The newly-promoted president of Hyundai Motor, Euisun Chung, has vowed to reduce dependence on traditional car manufacturing. He said robotics would account for 20 percent of the company’s future business, while car manufacturing would account for 50 percent and urban air transportation the remaining 30 percent.
Chung will own a 20 percent stake in Boston Dynamics, while Hyundai Motor and its subsidiaries Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis will have a combined 60 percent stake.
Executive Director of Softbank Group Son Masayoshi He said the partnership with Hyundai Motor would accelerate the robot maker’s path to commercialization.
Boston Dynamics, which spun off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, was bought by Google in 2013 and sold to SoftBank in 2017.
The company’s products include Spot, a dog-shaped robot who can climb stairs. The firm has gained media attention, although the company has struggled to build a commercial business.
Boston Dynamics reported a net loss of $ 103 million (approximately Rs. 759 million rupees) for the fiscal year ending March 2020, expanding its losses by more than 60 percent over the previous year.
The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in June 2021.
Boston Dynamics customers include Ford Motor, which rented two Spot robots in July as part of a pilot program.
Last year, Ford Motor also said it was partnering with roving robot maker Agility Robotics to design a planned fleet of autonomous delivery vans that will leave packages at the doors of people’s homes.
The Boston Dynamics deal is SoftBank’s latest setback from operating companies, as Son focuses on investing.
It marks the fading in SoftBank’s robotic ambitions, which were commented on by Son. He leaves the group’s own group robotics business, which includes the increasingly isolated humanoid robot Pepper.
For Hyundai Motor, this is the latest in a series of deals under the leadership of Chung, who has pledged to transform the automaker into a mobility provider, amid threats from electric car maker Tesla Inc and tech companies. with carpooling, self-driving and other technologies.
“Automakers are in a race for innovation. Hyundai was late to the race and it seems they want to show that they can do it, rather than trying to make money from the robot business,” said mobility consultant Cha Doo. won.
Hyundai Motor has developed a portable robot to reduce fatigue for factory workers and ran pilot programs at its US plants.
In January, Hyundai Motor announced that it had associated with Uber to develop electric air taxis, but the US firm said this week it would sell its flying taxi unit at a loss to Joby Aviation, a developer of electric passenger planes.