Hyundai Motor may buy Boston Dynamics, Spot robot maker

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Hyundai Motor may buy Boston Dynamics, Spot robot maker

Boston Dynamics' mobile robot SpotMini during a TED talk in July 2017. [TED]

Boston Dynamics' mobile robot SpotMini during a TED talk in July 2017. [TED]

 
Hyundai Motor is in talks with Tokyo’s SoftBank to acquire Boston Dynamics, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based robotics company, inching close to a deal valued as much as $1 billion.  
 
A source at the automaker confirmed on Wednesday that discussions are ongoing, although nothing has been decided.  
 
"As a global business entity, Hyundai Motor is continuously exploring various investment and partnership opportunities,” the source said.  
 
If realized, the deal would be the latest in a series for Hyundai as it strengthens its robotics business, while SoftBank is pushing to sell off holdings in unprofitable tech companies to address its financial troubles.  
 
Hyundai Motor participated in a $11.7 million fundraising round for Boston-based Realtime Robotics last year, along with Mitsubishi Electric and Omron Ventures.  
 
Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung publicly declared last year that robotics will account for 20 percent of the manufacturer’s future business, with cars taking up 50 percent and aerial vehicles 30 percent.    
 
Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics started off as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2013, Google acquired the company, followed by SoftBank’s takeover in 2017.  
 
The company is known for its four-legged canine-inspired Spot, which is designed to undertake various tasks, from opening doors to routine site inspections.  
 
BY PARK EUN-JEE   [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
 
 
 

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