Hyundai Buys Dystopian Humanoid Robot Company Boston Dynamics for Nearly $1 Billion: Report

Some of Hyundai’s future-mobility concepts look like Boston Dynamics’ robot dogs anyway. Why not just buy the bot company?

byStef Schrader|
Hyundai News photo

Hyundai Motor will purchase robot company Boston Dynamics for nearly 1 trillion won, or just shy of $919 million at today's exchange rate, reports The Robot Report. Boston Dynamics is known for their fascinating humanoid and animal-like robots. Let's put it this way: If there's one last sight we'll probably see before the robot overlords finally crush humanity, it'll be that Boston Dynamics bot that can stand itself back up after it falls down. 

The acquisition news was first reported by The Korea Economic Daily, which reported the sales price of just shy of 1 trillion won. The Robot Report also corroborated this themselves with a source familiar with the deal, who said that the sales price was roughly $1 billion. 

Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot can jump and roll over obstacles in a slightly unsettling way. , YouTube | Boston Dynamics

Given that Hyundai would love to build its walking car concepts that look a lot like Boston Dynamics' Spot the robot dog, this acquisition makes a lot of sense. Hyundai recently said that robotics will comprise 20% of its future business, and formally launched its Hyundai Robotics division this year, per The Robot Report. Additionally, Hyundai has been investing big in autonomous vehicle startups 42dot and Aptive along with Realtime Robotics. 

Boston Dynamics has always been an R&D wonderland of sorts, but after SoftBank's purchase of the company from Google in 2017, they've focused a lot more on commercial solutions. Spot robots are now sold for $74,500 each, and have been used for everything from going into monitoring radioactive areas in Chernobyl to towing Adam Savage's rickshaw. Per The Robot Report, sales of over 400 Spots have generated over $30 million in revenue. 

Spot even moves a lot like a dog. , Boston Dynamics

The Boston Dynamics acquisition would also come with additional tech goodies of interest to a company like Hyundai. Boston Dynamics acquired Kinema Systems in April 2019, which focuses on helping robots manipulate boxes using vision sensors and deep learning, The Robot Report notes. This system, rebranded the Boston Dynamics Pick System, was their first commercialized product, and that machine learning know-how is certainly relevant to a car company that recently prioritized its development of autonomous driving systems. 

SoftBank, which has owned Boston Dynamics since 2017, has been selling off some of its assets after its investments in other companies such as WeWork and Uber turned out to be flops. Hyundai and Boston Dynamics have yet to publicly confirm the sale, however, even though The Korea Economic Daily reported that the sale was set to be finalized at a Hyundai board meeting on December 10. 

"As a global business entity, Hyundai Motor is continuously exploring various investment and partnership opportunities," a Hyundai spokesperson told The Drive. "As a company policy, we do not comment on market speculations."

The Drive also reached out to Boston Dynamics for comment, which has not responded at the time of this writing. 

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