Hyundai Buys 80% Controlling Stake in Boston Dynamics, Maker of Spot the Robot Dog, for $921M
If this last half of 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that Hyundai is serious about robots. South Korea has the highest industrial robot consumption in the world per capita of factory workers. Good for them! As of this email, Hyundai has purchased 80% of Boston Dynamics for about $1.1 billion, and SoftBank will retain 20% ownership.
Hey, remember those deeply unsettling robot dogs that have been creeping out the internet for years and recently went into production? The company that makes them is called Boston Dynamics, and Hyundai just bought an 80% controlling stake in it, Hyundai confirmed on Friday. According to a report published Wednesday by The Korea Economic Daily, the deal is worth around $921 million, and Hyundai says this deal now values Boston Dynamics at $1.1 billion.
Yes, the very same Hyundai that's hammering out eye-catching and affordable automobiles for you to buy will now be getting deeper into the robot business with an eye on future mobility. Does this mean we'll get self-driving cars sooner, or will we get a robot to help us pedal our tandem bikes? We aren't exactly sure, as Hyundai doesn't give many details about what this actually means for the two companies.
But Hyundai does say that this deal was made with the goal of "advancing robotics and mobility to realize progress for humanity," and that Hyundai "envisions the transformation of human life" through the combination of its mobility expertise and Boston Dynamics' robots. This isn't the first time we've heard statements like that from Hyundai, as the company already has created a division for walking robots and mobility vehicles.
At the very least, this will probably be a leg up for the company in designing industrial robots or robots meant for use in manufacturing and logistics -- as we've seen from Boston Dynamics' non-techno-canine offerings, Handle and Atlas.
After the close of this transaction, which is expected in June 2021, Japanese holding company SoftBank will retain a 20% stake in Boston Dynamics. This acquisition is the first to be helmed by Hyundai's new chairman Chung Euisun since he took the job back in October, and rumors of the buyout have been circulating since early November.