Partnerships / Acquisitions

Softbank Buys Robotics Company Boston Dynamics From Google

SoftBank, the Japanese telecommunications company, announced late last week a subsidiary of SoftBank has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics from Alphabet.

In a press release, Softbank said the deal aligns with its investments in paradigm-shifting technologies and its vision of catalyzing the next wave of robotics and smart technology. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities. Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution, and Marc and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots. I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family and look forward to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling,” said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank in the news release. As part of the deal, SoftBank has also agreed to acquire Japanese bipedal robotics company Schaft.

According to a report, while Boston Dynamics is known for creating animal-like robots with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities — including BigDog, Cheetah and AlphaDog, among others — Google never really made its ambitions for the company clear. Before Boston Dynamics was acquired by Google, it was largely funded by the U.S. military’s research arm, DARPA, but under Google it stopped pursing DARPA contacts.

SoftBank, on the other hand, has had success with robots, noted the report. Boston Dynamics had reportedly been up for sale since March of last year, due to the tough time Google was having commercializing robots.

“We at Boston Dynamics are excited to be part of SoftBank’s bold vision and its position creating the next technology revolution, and we share SoftBank’s belief that advances in technology should be for the benefit of humanity. We look forward to working with SoftBank in our mission to push the boundaries of what advanced robots can do and to create useful applications in a smarter and more connected world,” said Marc Raibert, CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics, in the same press release.

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