Hyundai Motor Group acquires controlling stake in Boston Dynamics
Hyundai Motor Group announced Friday it has acquired a controlling stake in U.S.-based robot company Boston Dynamics, a company valued at $1.1 billion for the deal.
Three affiliates and the group chairman Euisun Chung will together purchase 80 percent of the robotics company from SoftBank Group.
After the transaction is completed, Hyundai Motor will have 30 percent of the company, Hyundai Mobis will have 20 percent, Hyundai Glovis will have 10 percent and Chairman Chung will have 20 percent.
Further details of the deal were not disclosed.
Chung's participation highlights his will to manage the group's future mobility business in a responsible way and invest further, according to the company.
“We are delighted to have Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots, join the Hyundai team,” he said in a press release Friday.
“This transaction will unite the capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility. […] [It will provide] free and safe movement and a higher plane of life experiences for humanity.”
The deal is expected to be closed in the first half of 2021 after going through authorization from Korea’s and the United States’ related government departments.
Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 as an MIT spinoff company and became a robotics technology pioneer. It was acquired by Google in 2013 and by SoftBank in 2017.
It developed a four-legged walking robot named Big Dog in 2004 in partnership with NASA and Harvard University, followed by upgrades named Little Dog, Cheetah and most recently Spot.
It started to mass-produce Spot in 2019.
Hyundai Motor Group has been researching wearable robots, but developing a robot that can move on its own hasn’t been included in its agenda.
The Korean automaker said it will focus on service-purpose robots with Boston Dynamics by first jumping into the logistics robot market, followed by robots to supervise construction sites and ones that can provide security.
In the long term, Hyundai Motor Group plans to develop humanoid robots that the company expects to be useful for supporting or replacing human workforces, such as nurses in hospitals.
“Hyundai Motor Group’s top-class capacity in mass production and [research and development], as well as its global network will contribute to improving mass production and profitability of Boston Dynamics’ robots,” the company said in a statement.
The automobile company expects the robot market to grow by an average of 32 percent through 2025, when it is projected to become a $177.2 billion market.
“Boston Dynamics’ commercial business has grown rapidly as we’ve brought to market the first robot that can automate repetitive and dangerous tasks in workplaces designed for human-level mobility,” said Rober Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics in a release.
“We and Hyundai share a view of the transformational power of mobility and look forward to working together to accelerate our plans to enable the world with cutting edge automation and continue to solve the world’s hardest robotics challenges for our customers.”
BY JIN EUN-SOO [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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