Reports surfaced early last November that Korean automaker Hyundai was in talks to buy Boston Dynamics, the company that makes these robot dogs that are likely to lead charges when the machines boot up.
Various reports have now confirmed that an agreement has been reached, and Hyundai will acquire Boston Dynamics from its current owner, the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, for $ 921 million.
As Gizmodo reports, this is the third time in seven years that the unprofitable Boston Dynamics has changed hands.
The company was spun off from a research unit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1990s and operated independently until it was purchased by Google in 2013. In 2017, SoftBank strengthened the company and took it from the Big G.
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Under SoftBank, Boston Dynamics began selling its four-legged robot to select organizations and individuals to collect more data and test it in a variety of scenarios.
At this point, it’s largely impossible to say what Hyundai would like to do with Boston Dynamics. There is some overlap between companies that can lead to product refinements on both ends.
As CNET’s Road Show points out, Boston Dynamics not only makes four-legged harbingers of the apocalypse, but also industrial robots designed for use in warehouses.
Do you remember Handle, the two-wheeled box mover that moves just like an armless velociraptor in terms of elegance? Perhaps Hyundai would like to bring these things to its cars’ production lines.
While Hyundai is best known in the consumer world for making cars, that doesn’t stop there.
It has also developed a wearable robot that thinks of a more motorized exoskeleton to help people with lower extremity paralysis walk. Perhaps Hyundai could use Boston Dynamics technology to further develop these mobility tools.
Or maybe Hyundai wants to ditch Boston Dynamics’ sensor technology for self-driving or automated cars.
But let’s face it, assuming Hyundai doesn’t plan to take on the world with a fleet of robot dogs, we really want to see a walking car.
Back in 2019, Hyundai showed renders of its Elevate concept car at CES, which, as you guessed it, can drive and run.
In theory, it could function like a normal car, ride along and take care of its own business. Or the drivers could use their “legs”, lock the drive wheels and walk over rough terrain, just like the Boston Dynamics dog.
Coincidence? I do not believe that.
In September of this year, Top Gear reported that Hyundai is actively developing its running car, making it more than just a virtual concept.
This can be especially useful for emergency services who need to respond to disasters that normal wheeled vehicles cannot drive.
Hyundai’s “New Horizon’s Studio” is tasked with bringing this absolutely indispensable piece of technology to life. “We want to develop the world’s first vehicle in the transformer class,” said the then representative from Hyundai.
But I think we can all agree that absolutely, 100%, completely and completely everything it can must be devoted to this project. It has to be done.
Just like evil Overlords, Hyundai isn’t revealing its plans for Boston Dynamics, so we can’t know for sure if Elevate will become a reality.
The company’s global public relations director, Jin Cha, commented on a number of branches: “As a global company, Hyundai Motor is continuously exploring various investment and partnership opportunities. As a company policy, we do not comment on market speculation. “
Come on Hyundai, just do the walking car so we can at least fight the robot dogs in the war.
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Published on December 10, 2020 – 10:42 UTC