Boston Dynamics, the company best known for its robot dog Spot that can open doors on their own, has been sold to Korean carmaker Hyundai for close to $1 billion, according to The Korea Economic Daily.
Hyundai, best known for its affordable cars, has itself been pushing further into robotics as well as autonomous driving, and had even announced a partnership with Uber in a flying-taxi concept at CES 2020. (Of course Uber just sold off that side of its business, Uber Elevation, this week.
But Boston Dynamics, and its robots that bear more than a passing resemblance to canines, is better known for its push in the robotics field over the past few years. Spot, just one iteration, which induces both intrigue and fear — depending on your consumption level of the show "Black Mirror," actually went into production this year with a price of about $75,000 per robot dog.
These robots have been put to use on oil rigs, construction sites and even tested by at least one police department. And early videos of their abilities even showed 10 put to use like robotic horses, pulling a truck across a parking lot. A humanoid-looking robot known as Atlas can even handle parkour, jumping from one surface to another with dexterity.
The company, which was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinoff, and was itself pickup by Google in 2013, and then sold again to Softbank by then-Google's parent Alphabet in 2017.
Robots that mirror animals in not just their shape but the way they move, from cheetahs to snakes, capture the public's imagination. So too robots like those built by LG, imagined as greeters in airports, or mowing our front lawns. But robotics also appear in other uses, particularly in manufacturing and in other industrial uses, a focus for Hyundai.
How the company will now use a robotic dog that can use its mouth to open a door, will be a move to watch.
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