Hyundai is reportedly in the process of purchasing a large controlling interest in robot innovator Boston Dynamics from SoftBank in a deal valued at $1.1 billion.
The transaction, under which Hyundai will reportedly obtain an 80% stake with SoftBank retaining around 20% through an affiliate, is expected to close by June of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions. Boston Dynamics currently produces a variety of mobile robots used by utilities, warehouses, petroleum companies, miners, and manufacturers.
The road leading to this deal has been long and somewhat winding for Boston Dynamics. The company originated out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a start-up, and was later acquired by Alphabet (GOOGL) in 2013, in a deal reportedly worth about $100 million.
The sale is consistent with SoftBank’s reported efforts to potentially take SoftBank private, which involves selling off large assets with the proceeds (currently over $50 billion in selloffs) to buy back its stock and pay down debt.
Hyundai has indicated its investment will help its development of service and logistics robots, and down the road more humanoid robots in the healthcare space, autonomous driving and smart factories.