Softbank has made a huge return on its investment in Boston Dynamics after agreeing to sell its US robotics team to South Korean carmaker Hyundai in a $ 1.1 billion deal.
Under the deal announced on Friday, Hyundai and its chairman Yusun Chung will hold an 80 percent stake in the production of robots, including the Bibodal Atlas and the four-legged spot. Softbank will hold a 20 per cent stake through a subsidiary.
Google acquires Boston Dynamics, pioneer of mechanical robotics, which appeared at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in late 2013 It was sold to Softbank in 2017.
At the time, Softbank agreed to buy Boston Dynamics and Japanese robotics team Shaft in a deal worth more than $ 100 million. According to a person familiar with the transaction, it will receive $ 574 million from Hyundai sales.
Boston Dynamics was initially acquired by Softbank Held Through a review by the Foreign Investment Group in the United States. Eventually, the deal excluded the acquisition of Shaft, which won an advanced robotics challenge in late 2013, funded by US defense technology firm Darba. Google then closed the shaft section.
As Hyundai expands its footprint in robotics, the deal is part of a broader transformation into motion services. Mr Chung has vowed to reduce the company’s credibility in traditional vehicle production and develop development drivers, including robotics and urban air movement.
Hyundai plans to cut its revenue share from car production to 50 percent, while robotics and urban air movement are 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
In a statement, the company said it has seen the development potential of logistics robots used in warehouses and factories and service robots that can be used by the disabled or the elderly.
“This transaction will combine the capabilities of the Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to drive innovations in future operation,” Mr Chung said.
This is the first large-scale acquisition since Mr Chung became chairman of the company in October. It also marks the company’s largest investment since it paid b2 billion in a joint venture with Dublin-based auto tech group Optive to build driverless cars.
Hyundai, which has been criticized for years for being slow to pursue new technologies, has sharply increased its investments in new sectors under Mr Sung’s leadership.
The carmaker announced last year a $ 35 billion investment plan to move away from traditional car production over the next five years and switch to sectors including electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells and driverless cars. In January, Hyundai announced that it had teamed up with Uber and would spend $ 1.5 billion to build flying taxis.
Shares of Hyundai fell 1.6 percent on Friday, while shares of Softbank fell 4.7 percent.