Alphabet Is Selling Boston Dynamics to a Japanese Tech Giant

SoftBank Group is taking over Google parent Alphabet's robot dreams, buying Boston Dynamics to pursue a future when more machines intermingle with humans.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. "I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family", said Son.

It wasn't clear whether Boston Dynamics would remain within SoftBank, a Tokyo-based telecommunications and tech investment company, or become part of the Vision Fund, the $93 billion technology investment fund started by SoftBank's founder, Masayoshi Son.

Japan's SoftBank announced Friday that it's buying robot maker Boston Dynamics from Google's parent Alphabet, saying the deal will help it in its aim to be at the forefront of "the next wave of smart robotics". That approach - which saw Google invest in another seven robotics firms including Schaft in 2013 alone - was led by Andy Rubin, the co-founder and former leader of the search giant's Android mobile unit. In case you are wondering (we were), we have double checked and these are the only two of Alphabet's robotics companies getting acquired by Softbank. Reports a year ago suggested there was growing tension between Alphabet's executives, who wanted to get a commercial product to market, and Boston Dynamic's engineers, who requested more freedom to build its cool-but-freaky robots without worrying about making a profit at the same time. Aldebaran, which is a subsidiary of the SoftBank Group through SoftBank Robotics Corp, said the contract was worth more than a million euros.

There had been lots of murmurs about Google (and then Alphabet) wanting to offload Boston Dynamics for over a year now.

Boston Dynamics also has humanoid "Atlas", which uses "balance and whole-body skills".

Boston Dynamics is, consequently, regarded as something of a pioneer in the robotics field. In 2012, SoftBank acquired French company Aldebaran Robotics and two years later unveiled Pepper, a $1,600 humanoid promoted as the world's first robot endowed with emotions. What we do know for sure is that SoftBank suddenly has an alarming amount of talent and tech at its disposal- either it's all going to get sucked up into a corporate void and never heard from again, or something truly unbelievable is going to come out of this new partnership.

  • Zachary Reyes