Hyundai Motor Group agrees to buy a controlling interest in company known for robodogs

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

Boston Dyanamics may be best known for creating these dog-like robots.

Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), the parent company of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis vehicle brands, and SoftBank Group Corp. have agreed to a deal that would have HMG gain a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics, a robotics company perhaps best known for making dog-like robots that monitor Singapore’s parks and help Ford map out its factories.

The deal values the mobile robot firm at $1.1 billion. Under the agreement, Hyundai Motor Group will hold an approximately 80 percent stake in Boston Dynamics and SoftBank, through one of its affiliates, will retain an approximately 20 percent stake in Boston Dynamics after the closing of the transaction.

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Ford is testing Boston Dynamics robodogs at its Michigan plant.
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Hyundai has been pushing the limits of the possibilities of future mobility in multiple realms of transportation. Last November, presented the company’s idea of what the future of San Francisco could look like. Then-Executive Vice Chairman Euisun Chung, who has since been promoted to Chairman of HMG, presented the visual saying, “Cities and mobility services were developed for humans from the very beginning… That’s why we are making a wide range of efforts to study a human-centered future from a broader humanities perspective.”

In January, Hyundai and Uber announced a partnership to develop air taxis. That was followed by a model of a future city, complete with dynamic mobility solutions, in May
Over the summer, Hyundai and the Rhode Island School of Design announced a new research collaboration to examine relationships among natural and built environments. The result of the partnership will be proposals for new directions for the future of mobility.

Most recently, Hyundai’s New Horizons Studio distributed a series of concept sketches to showcase the possibility of future mobility solutions. Many of those solutions look reminiscent of Boston Dynamics’ innovations.

“We are delighted to have Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots, join the Hyundai team. This transaction will unite capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility. The synergies created by our union offer exciting new pathways for our companies to realize our goal – providing free and safe movement and higher plane of life experiences for humanity,” said Chung. “We will also contribute to the society by enhancing its safety, security, public health amid global trends of aging society and digital transformation.”

Boston Dynamics has had a busy few months and looks to continue the momentum in 2021. This year, it launched sales of its first commercial robot, Spot. The company plans to expand the Spot product line in 2021 with version of the robot with greater levels of autonomy and remote inspection capabilities, and the release of a robotic arm. Pick, a computer vision-based depalletizing solution, is set to enter the logistics market inn 2021.

The transaction is expected to close in June 2021.

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