Google’s parent company Alphabet will sell its robotics subsidiaries Boston Dynamics and Schaft to Japanese telecom company SoftBank. Alphabet has reportedly been looking for a buyer for Boston Dynamics, an MIT spin-off, for about a year. Earlier, the company reportedly tried to negotiate a deal with Toyota, but it never happened, notes Quartz.
SoftBank is confident about robotics
Alphabet acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013, mainly to build some useful robots. At that time, Andy Rubin headed the robotics company, but he left Google in 2014 to run a tech incubator. Rubin recently released a new smartphone. Shaft, on the other hand, was acquired around 2014.
In a statement, Marc Raibert, CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics, said, “We at Boston Dynamics are excited to be part of SoftBank’s bold vision and its position creating the next technology revolution, and we share SoftBank’s belief that advances in technology should be for the benefit of humanity.”
Raibert added that the company is looking forward to working with SoftBank and further developing advanced robots to create useful applications in a smarter and more connected world.
SoftBank, which is widely present in the Japanese telecom market after it acquired Vodafone, is also present in robotics. The Japanese company makes the popular pepper robot in partnership with Aldebaran Robotics.
There is no word on the terms of the deal, but Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement that smart robotics will underline the next stage of the information revolution, and Boston Dynamics will come out as the undisputed leader in advanced dynamic robots.
“I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family and look forward to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling,” Son said.
Why Alphabet is selling Boston Dynamics
Alphabet has more or less been clueless about how it can utilize the robotics innovation. Last year, CFO Ruth Porat said that the company is taking some crucial steps in narrowing its experimental efforts. Earlier this year, there were also reports that Google is not happy with Boston Dynamics, which is responsible for making a humanoid robot that can fall and then stand just like in the movie Terminator.
Bloomberg reported that the subsidiary is unlikely to generate any significant revenue over the next few years, and it is a difficult concept to work with. Further, Bloomberg stated that either Amazon or Toyota would buy Boston Dynamics for their manufacturing and warehouse operations.
When it was not part of Google, Boston Dynamics was largely in military research contracts, and its humanoid Atlas robot was deployed in DARPA’s robotics challenge in 2015. However, in 2015, the U.S. Army stated that it would not continue with Boston Dynamic’s robots because they were too loud and also difficult to be fixed on the field. Further, it is not known whether the company had been able to commercialize any of its research projects, notes Quartz.
On Thursday, Alphabet shares closed up 0.27% at $1004.28.