The SoftBank Group Corp. of Japan is buying Boston Dynamics, the robotics pioneer, from Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google.
SoftBank is a leading internet, solar, and technology company based in Tokyo. The deal also includes the purchase of Schaft, which produces biped robots, from Alphabet, The Associated Press reported. Terms and figures of the deal were not disclosed.
The move indicates SoftBank's expansion in the area of robotics. It already develops the cute companion robot, Pepper, which sings songs and answers questions using its arms while being equipped with wheels for legs.
"Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution," said SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son, according to the AP.
The addition of Boston Dynamics and Schaft will help "advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling," Son added.
Mark Raibert, CEO of Boston Dynamics, said he hopes his company under SoftBank will create technology that will "benefit humanity" and provide for "a smarter and more connected world," the AP noted.
The two companies purchased focus on creating robots with legs that move like people and animals, according to Jamie Condliffe in MIT Technology Review.
SoftBank has not had great success with its Pepper robot, developed to work with people in offices and stores. The acquisition of Boston Dynamics and Schaft indicates SoftBank is betting on future technology to produce walking robots.
Alphabet had been losing interest in robotics since Android creator Andy Rubin left the company in 2014. Financial concerns or differences with Boston Dynamics may have played a part in selling the companies, Condliffe speculated.
SoftBank may benefit from an aging population in Japan, causing a need and a huge market for robots helping out around the house. The Japanese firm also holds potential for growth in many areas of technology by purchasing such companies as British chip designer ARM and investing $4 billion in chip-making giant Nvida.
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