Hyundai Motor Group and its chairman have agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group. The transaction valued the American robot manufacturer at $1.1 billion (approximately Rs 81.11 billion).
The South Korean car manufacturer group said on Friday that the acquisition will help it expand the automation of its car factories and design self-driving cars, drones and robots, as it hopes to transform itself from a manufacturer to more A wide range of mobile service providers.
Hyundai Motor said that the transaction involves the issuance of new shares, which will enable the company and its principals to own 80% of Boston Dynamics, while SoftBank will retain 20% of the shares.
The newly promoted Hyundai Motor Chairman Zhong Hanzhong has pledged to reduce reliance on traditional automobile manufacturing. He once said that robotics will account for 20% of the company’s future business, while automobile manufacturing will account for 50%, and urban air transportation will account for the remaining 30%.
Chung will own 20% of Boston Dynamics, while Hyundai Motor and its affiliates Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis will jointly hold 60% of the shares.
SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son said that the cooperation with Hyundai Motor will accelerate the commercialization of robot manufacturers.
Boston Dynamics was separated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, was acquired by Google in 2013, and sold to SoftBank in 2017.
The company’s products include Spot, a dog-like robot that can climb stairs. Although the company has been working hard to establish a commercial business, the company has gained media attention.
Boston Dynamics reported that the net loss for the fiscal year ending March 2020 was US$103 million (approximately Rs 7.59 billion), an increase of more than 60% over the same period last year.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed in June 2021.
Boston Dynamics’ customers include Ford Motor Company, which rented two Spot robots in July as part of a pilot program.
Last year, Ford Motor also said that it is working with walking robot manufacturer Agility Robotics to design a planned fleet of driverless trucks that will put packages on people’s doors.
Sun Zhengyi focuses on investment, which is SoftBank’s recent divestment of Boston Dynamics from its operating business.
This marks the fading of SoftBank’s robotics ambitions that Sun Zhengyi talked about. It left the group’s own hip robotics business, which included Pepper, a humanoid robot.
For Hyundai Motor, this is the latest in a series of transactions under Zhong Zhongzhong’s leadership. Chung is loyal to the threat of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Inc and technology companies that share ride-hailing, autonomous driving and other technologies, and promises to transform automakers into mobility service providers.
“Automakers are in an innovation race. Hyundai Motor is a latecomer to this race. It seems that they want to show what they can do instead of trying to make money from the robotics business.” won.
Hyundai Motor has developed a wearable robot to reduce the fatigue of factory workers and has conducted a pilot program at its US factory.
In January, Hyundai Motor announced that it had partnered with Uber to develop electric air taxis, but the American company said this week that it would sell its loss-making flying taxi division to Joby Aviation, a developer of electric passenger aircraft.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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