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Hyundai to Take Over Robot Dog-Maker Boston Dynamics Valued at $1.1 Billion

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Hyundai Motor Group and its chairman have agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group in a deal that values the US-based robotic maker at $1.1 billion (roughly Rs. 8,111 crores).

The South Korean automaker group mentioned on Friday the acquisition would assist it increase automation in its automobile factories and design autonomous automobiles, drones and robots, because it seeks to flip itself from a producer right into a broader mobility service supplier.

Hyundai Motor mentioned the deal, which entails a brand new share situation, would give the corporate and its chief a mixed 80 % stake in Boston Dynamics, whereas SoftBank will retain 20 %.

Newly promoted Hyundai Motor Chairman Euisun Chung has pledged to scale back reliance on conventional automobile manufacturing. He has mentioned robotics would account for 20 % of the agency’s future enterprise, whereas car-making would account for 50 % and concrete air transport would make up the remaining 30 %.

Chung will personal a 20 % stake in Boston Dynamics, whereas Hyundai Motor and its associates Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis will maintain a mixed 60 % stake.

Softbank Group Chief Executive Masayoshi Son mentioned the partnership with Hyundai Motor would speed up the robotic maker’s path to commercialisation.

Boston Dynamics, which was spun out from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, was purchased by Google in 2013 and offered to SoftBank in 2017.

The firm’s merchandise embody Spot, a dog-like robotic that may climb stairs. The agency has gained media consideration though the corporate has struggled to construct a industrial enterprise.

Boston Dynamics reported a web lack of $103 million (roughly Rs. 759 crores) for the fiscal 12 months ending in March 2020, widening its losses by greater than 60 % from a 12 months earlier.

The transaction, topic to regulatory approvals and different customary closing situations, is predicted to shut by June 2021.

‘Innovation race’
Boston Dynamics’ purchasers embody Ford Motor, which leased two Spot robots in July as a part of a pilot programme.

Last 12 months, Ford Motor additionally mentioned it was partnering with strolling robotic maker Agility Robotics because it designs a deliberate fleet of self-driving supply vans that may drop packages at the doorsteps of individuals’s houses.

The Boston Dynamics deal is the newest pullback by SoftBank from working companies as Son focuses on investing.

It marks the fading in SoftBank’s robotics ambitions, which had been talked up by Son. It leaves the group’s personal rump robotics enterprise, which incorporates humanoid robotic Pepper, trying more and more remoted.

For Hyundai Motor, that is the newest in a flurry of offers underneath Chung, who pledged to remodel the automaker right into a mobility supplier, amid threats from electrical carmaker Tesla Inc and tech companies with ride-sharing, self-driving and different applied sciences.

“Automakers are in an innovation race. Hyundai is a late-comer to the race, and it seems that they want to showcase that they can do it, rather than trying to generate money from the robot business,” mentioned mobility marketing consultant Cha Doo-won.

Hyundai Motor has developed a wearable robotic to scale back fatigue for manufacturing facility employees and ran pilot programmes at its US crops.

In January, Hyundai Motor introduced it had partnered with Uber to develop electrical air taxis, however the US agency mentioned this week it might promote its loss-making flying taxi unit to Joby Aviation, an electrical passenger plane developer.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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