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Robot troop sold to new human masters

/ 03:40 PM June 11, 2017

Left to right: Handle, Atlas, SpotMini, Spot, WildCat and BigDog. Image: Boston Dynamics

Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google, has agreed to sell Boston Dynamics and its troupe of robots to Japanese company SoftBank for an undisclosed sum.

The Verge reports that the intention to sell Boston Dynamics first surfaced some time in March 2016. This was roughly two years after Android co-founder Andy Rubin left Google. Rubin had spearheaded a number of prominent robotics acquisitions during his time, including Boston Dynamics.

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Selling Boston Dynamics appears to be part of Alphabet’s overall restructuring and cost-saving strategy that was put into effect by company CEO Ruth Porat in 2016.

SoftBank is a telecommunications and technology company that has a significant presence in the Japanese market. The company also dabbles in robotics technology and has produced the popular humanoid Pepper robot.

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The acquisition of Boston Dynamics’ robotic assets should boost Softbank’s development of robots for the commercial market and possibly find applications for the robots that Boston Dynamics have already created.

“Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities. Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution, and Marc and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots,” said SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, in a statement. “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.”

Boston Dynamics is an engineering and robotics design company that has developed a number of cutting-edge robots such as SpotMini, Atlas, and most recently Handle. Alfred Bayle/JB

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TOPICS: Atlas, BigDog, Boston Dynamics, Handle, Softbank, SpotMini
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