Daily Management Review

SoftBank buys robot manufacturers from Alphabet


06/09/2017


SoftBank, a member of the Japanese holding SoftBank Group Corp, entered into a definitive agreement on purchase Boston Dynamics and Schaft, two manufacturers of robots owned by Alphabet Inc.



NaturalNews via vimeo
NaturalNews via vimeo
The amount and details of the transaction were not disclosed, but the fact of sale was confirmed in both Boston Dynamics and SoftBank. SoftBank’s message reads that the deal is fully consistent with the "strategy of investing in revolutionary technologies" and "the idea of stimulating the next wave of intelligent robotics."

"To date, there are still many issues that cannot be solved by human efforts. Intelligent robotics will become the main driving force for the next stage of the development of information technology, and the team of Boston Dynamics is an obvious leader in the field of advanced dynamic robots", said Masayoshi Son, chairman of SoftBank Group, welcoming Boston Dynamics team into the Japanese company.

Founder and head of Boston Dynamics Marc Raibert noted that he supports SoftBank's ambitious plans for initiating the next technological revolution: "We look forward to working with SoftBank on our mission - to expand boundaries of the capabilities of modern robots and to benefit society in a more intelligent and connected world ".

In parallel with purchasing Boston Dynamics, the Japanese holding also agreed on acquisition of Japanese company Schaft. This firm is engaged in development of two-legged, including anthropomorphic, robots. Details of this transaction are also not specified. As the agency notes, SoftBank has previously invested in the development of robots, but this has not yet produced any notable results. Probably, the firm will create a new now robotic company once the deals are fully completed created.

Once the news were published, SoftBank’s shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose by 7%, while value of Alphabet’s securities remained virtually unchanged.

Alphabet intended to sell Boston Dynamics back in March 2016. Potential buyers of the robot manufacturer were called the research institute of Japanese automaker Toyota and American corporation Amazon, which have experience in working with robots. In particular, Amazon uses robots in its distribution centers.

Boston Dynamics have earned worldwide fame due to their promo video demonstrating capabilities of the robots created. Social networks they even tried to blame the company for inhuman treatment of robots, which were pushed, beaten and interfered while performing various tasks.

Management of Alphabet Holding doubted Boston Dynamics’ ability to make a profit in the coming years. Insiders quoted words of Larry Page’s adviser Jonathan Rosenberg. In particular, he said that the company cannot afford to spend more than 30% of resources on things, implementation of which will take more than 10 years. "There is a time period during which we must generate enough funds to cover our expenses - and this is only a few years", Rosenberg said.

Google bought Boston Dynamics in 2013 as part of development of the robotics program. The purchase was led by Head of the Android department, Andy Rubin, who resigned from his post in 2014. At that time, Google already had a unit dealing with robots, called Replicant.

Complicated relationships within Replicant division were another reason for the sale, because Google bought Boston Dynamics just to strengthen Replicant.

The main problem was reluctance of Boston Dynamics management to work with other Google engineers in California and Tokyo, as well as lack of the producer's ideas for creating products that can be released in the near future.

For some time, the management discussed negotiations to unite the division with Google X laboratory, which deals with the company's most ambitious programs. However, this did not happen, due to the fact that "Boston Dynamics does not solve the problems that Google X is trying to solve".

source: bloomberg.com






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