South Korean automaker Hyundai is in talks with Japanese firm Softbank to buy Boston Dynamics, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
The deal makes Hyundai the third company to own the robotics company in seven years, after Google and Softbank.
Boston Dynamics is known both inside and outside the industry for building some of the most advanced robotic systems on the planet, including BigDog and Atlas.
A Hyundai spokesperson said: It is the company’s policy not to comment on market speculation, adding that as a global business entity, Hyundai is constantly exploring several investment and partnership opportunities.
Since becoming part of Softbank in 2017, Boston Dynamics has moved aggressively to commercialize its products after a quarter of a century of focusing on military and research robotics.
Its Spot robot went on sale last year and has appeared across a wide range of different applications.
Trying to scale these types of advanced and expensive technologies is a difficult proposition, and it requires an owner with patience and money.
Softbank has run into some difficulties this year, including bad bets, such as WeWork.
Softbank has businesses in the field of robotics, including robotics maker Aldebaran Robotics, but Hyundai’s vision is more in line with Boston Dynamics’ work.
Hyundai has shown increased interest in automated vehicle and robotics technology over the past year, especially Ultimate Mobility vehicles, which combine traditional transportation with transformational robotic technologies.
Hyundai established a joint venture with autonomous technology company Aptiv, in which the two parties acquired a 50 percent stake in the ownership of the new company, now known as Motional.
The new project aims to develop production-ready autonomous driving systems of Level 4 and Level 5, with the aim of making them available to robotic and fleet operators, as well as other automobile manufacturers, by 2022.
The total joint investment in the project reached 4 billion dollars, including the value of joint engineering services, research and development, and intellectual property.
Fully autonomous systems testing begins in 2020, with a target to commercialize them in 2022, as Hyundai is explicitly interested in self-driving cars and other future mobility technologies.
In October 2019, the South Korean automaker committed to invest 41 trillion South Korean won ($ 35 billion) in future mobility technologies by 2025.