SoftBank is to acquire Alphabet-owned robotics developers Boston Dynamics and Schaft for an undisclosed fee, boosting the Japan-based company’s play in what it described as “paradigm-shifting technology”.
Boston Dynamics, acquired by now Alphabet subsidiary Google X in 2013, was put up for sale by the US technology giant in early 2016. At the time Bloomberg reported Amazon and Toyota were potential suitors, but those deals failed to materialise.
Full details of SoftBank’s acquisition – a single deal covering both robotics companies – were not revealed and it remains unclear if the purchase will be funded by SoftBank directly or the SoftBank Vision Fund, a $93 billion investment pot created in partnership with a range of other stakeholders.
US-based Boston Dynamics and Japan-based Schaft specialise in developing and producing a range of robots and related technology.
In a statement, SoftBank said the acquisition aligns with its investments in “paradigm-shifting technologies” and its goal to play a key part in “the next wave of smart robotics”.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said: “Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution. 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.”
Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert added: “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.”
The deal is subject to regulatory approval.