Hyundai Motor Group buys robot maker Boston Dynamics in a $1.1 billion deal

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Hyundai Motor Group and its chairman have signed a $1.1 billion deal with SoftBank Group Corp to own a controlling stake in the robotics design company, Boston Dynamics.

The South Korean automaker said on Friday the deal would help it expand operations into designing self-driving cars, drones and delivery robots as it seeks to reduce reliance on traditional car manufacturing.

The deal, which involves a new issue of shares, would give Hyundai and its chairman a combined 80% stake in Boston Dynamics – about $880 million, while Softbank will retain 20% stake or $220 million.

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Euisun Chung, the newly promoted Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group said robot manufacturing would account for 20% of the company’s future business, while traditional car-manufacturing would account for 50% and urban air transport would make up the remaining 30%.

According to the terms of the deal, Chung will own a 20% stake in Boston Dynamics, while Hyundai Motor and its affiliates Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis will own a combined 60% stake.

Softbank Group CEO Masayoshi Son said the deal with Hyundai would accelerate Boston Dynamics path to commercialisation.

Boston Dynamics, which was founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was bought by Google in 2013 and sold to SoftBank in 2017.

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The company manufactures a series of dynamic highly-mobile robots, including Spot, a dog-like robot that can climb stairs, Atlas, and Handle.

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Boston Dynamics gained media attention through its products, although it has struggled to make profits. The company reported a net loss of $103 million for the fiscal year ending in March 2020, widening its losses by more than 60% from a year earlier.