Hyundai Motor Group has agreed to acquire approximately 80 percent stake in American engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group for $1.1bn.
The move can fuel Hyundai’s long-term goal to become a smart mobility solutions provider by leveraging Boston Dynamics’ robots such as bipedal and quadruped equipped with 3D vision, navigation and advanced intelligence, says data and analytics company GlobalData.
Venkata Naveen, senior disruptive tech analyst at GlobalData, says: “Hyundai’s move to acquire major stake in Boston Dynamics polarizes with many automakers competing to add their name to the me-too stack of autonomous carmakers by purchasing self-driving tech startups.
“Moreover, the strategic location of Boston Dynamics in the Silicon Valley gives an advantage to Hyundai to collaborate with tech startups as well as pool the right talent.”
In 2013, Google purchased Boston Dynamics to power its core robotic division and eventually create new robotics technologies for commercial applications. But the startup did not meet any commercial success and began losing talent after Google’s restructuring into Alphabet.
In 2017, SoftBank acquired Boston Dynamics to push its smart robotics capabilities. Apart from a few interesting videos of its humanoid and dog-like robots, there was no direct visible benefit to SoftBank.
Naveen says: “Integrating Boston Dynamics’ robotic technologies with the automotive expertise can strengthen Hyundai’s position in smart mobility, especially in areas such as robo-taxis, personal air vehicles and last-mile mobility.”
The past two years saw both automakers and tech giants ramp up their bets on autonomous vehicles by acquiring startups into self-driving technology. Apple acquired Drive.ai, Amazon purchased Zoox and Daimler snapped Torc Robotics.
Naveen says: “In contrast, Hyundai’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics is the first in line of such strategies in the automotive industry to build a smart mobility ecosystem for faster, cheaper and sustainable transportation.”