Boston Dynamics' robot-like dog. Picture: REUTERS
Boston Dynamics' robot-like dog. Picture: REUTERS

SoftBank Group is in talks to sell robot maker Boston Dynamics to Hyundai Motor, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Proposed terms of the deal would give the South Korean automaker control of the robotics company in a transaction valued at as much as $1bn, said one of the people, all of whom asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The terms have yet to be finalised, and the deal could fall apart, said the people.

Representatives for Boston Dynamics, Hyundai and SoftBank declined to comment on the deal talks. In e-mailed statements, Hyundai said it is “continuously exploring various investment and partnership opportunities”. Boston Dynamics said its work “continues to excite partners interested in exploring a deeper commercial relationship with our company”.

A sale of Boston Dynamics would mark another twist in the trajectory of a company that spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 1990s and operated independently until Google bought it in 2013. It was sold again in 2017, that time to SoftBank.

At times, Boston Dynamics has functioned more like a research organisation than a business, churning out machines that are technologically advanced and whimsical but unprofitable. That includes Spot, a manoeuvrable dog-like robot. Videos of its creations regularly rack up millions of views on YouTube; however, the company has said it is not now making money.

By contrast, Hyundai makes highly practical industrial robots intended for factory use.


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