Here’s a surprise turn of events: Softbank — maker of the friendly Pepper robot — has just announced that it is acquiring two robotics companies from Alphabet as part of its own deeper move into robotics: Big Dog developer Boston Dynamics and the bipedal robotics firm Schaft. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed but we will try to find out.
For Alphabet, this is part of the company’s bigger efforts to rationalise some of its many acquisitions and strategic bets over the years that have not panned out as great fits with the wider business.
“Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., in a statement. “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. 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.”
It looks like the whole team is coming over with the deal. “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,” said Marc Raibert, CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics, in a statement. “We look forward to working with SoftBank in our mission to push the boundaries of what advanced robots can do and to create useful applications in a smarter and more connected world.”
More to come.