Boston Dynamics Robot Company Sold By Alphabet To SoftBank

Editor's Remarks: Google bought Boston Dynamics back in 2013 but Alphabet has now sold it to Masayoshi Son's tech leviathan, SoftBank, as it shifts away from robotics and towards driverless cars and AI. Terms and figures of the deal were not disclosed. Videos of the robots, known for their animal-like movements, are popular on YouTube. The Softbank is interested in acquiring the enterprises and startups in the robotics industry. That may change with this new deal. Boston Dynamics is making into the headlines repeatedly with its eye-catching robots, that can run, jump and climb stairs. The founder of Boston Dynamics, Marc Raibert, also recently hinted that the company's robots can assist in situations requiring emergency response or even in restaurants. It is now working toward creating a $100 billion fund for technology investments.

This would be Son's second venture into robotics. SoftBank also acquired Schaft, another Alphabet subsidiary that specialises in robotics.

"We share SoftBank's belief that advances in technology should be for the benefit of humanity", he said.

"Typically, when Son makes a big acquisition, the markets are anxious", said Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities Co.

Known for its robots Atlas and BigDog, Boston Dynamics has struggled to push its inventions to the market and was listed for sale more than a year ago.

In the years since the Boston Dynamics acquisition, Google has shown that it doesn't need to build a robot butler (or soldier) to create a future dominated by artificial intelligence. Before the acquisition, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company developed large, heavy robots mostly for potential military purposes, through research contracts with US government agencies.

The company, which has worked closely with the U.S. military, was acquired by Google in 2013 as Android creator Andy Rubin was building up a team of roboticists for a project known internally as Replicant, which involved looking at how robots could be used for things like caring for the elderly and carrying out warehouse operations. Under Rubin, Google reportedly had plans to launch a consumer robotics product by 2020, but that timeline seems in doubt now.

  • Zachary Reyes