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SoftBank to acquire Alphabet Inc's moonshot robotics company Boston Dynamics

Team YS
9th Jun 2017
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SoftBank Group Corp (SoftBank) on Friday announced that a SoftBank subsidiary is in the process of acquiring robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics from Alphabet Inc. As part of the transaction, SoftBank has also agreed to acquire Japanese bipedal robotics company Schaft from Alphabet Inc. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Masayoshi Son, Founder & CEO, Softbank
Masayoshi Son, Founder & CEO, Softbank

Founded in 2012 in the JSK Robotics Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, Schaft has continued its work under the leadership of co-founders Yuto Nakanishi, Junichi Urata, Narito Suzuki, and Koichi Nishiwaki.

Boston Dynamics, on the other hand, was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert. On December 13, 2013, the company was acquired by Google X, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, for an undisclosed amount. But some of Alphabet Inc's 'moonshot projects' haven't been working out as envisioned. A recent Fortune report noted that Alphabet had been searching for a buyer for Boston Dynamics.

Talking about the acquisition by SoftBank, Marc, CEO and Founder of Boston Dynamics, said in a statement,

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. 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.

Established in July 2014, SoftBank has a robotics division named SoftBank Robotics Corp that is into development, sales, and maintenance of humanoid robots and service robots. Hence SoftBank believes that the transaction aligns with its investments in 'paradigm-shifting' technologies and its vision of catalysing the next wave of smart robotics. Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp, said in a statement,

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. 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.

SoftBank added that the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

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