Over the past several years, Boston Dynamics has made some of the most remarkable robots around, including the humanoid Atlas robot and the four-legged Spot robot. The company is also known for constantly abusing those robots by kicking and pushing them around. Now, it has yet another new home.
Boston Dynamics was purchased by Google in 2013, and now it seems like Google is no longer interested. It's Alphabet division is selling the company to Japanese telecom SoftBank.
While Boston Dynamics is at the forefront of robotics technology, it has struggled to make any of their projects profitable. They were initially successful in building a military robot for carrying heavy gear, but the Army decided not to renew their contract because the robot was too loud. Their other robots, like Spot and Atlas, are useful research products but have never hit store shelves.
Chances are, it's for this reason that Google is deciding to sell Boston Dynamics. But why does SoftBank want to buy it?
SoftBank has spent years developing useful and marketable robots. In 2014, the company developed a greeter robot called Pepper to help the customers in its stores. SoftBank is likely looking to use Boston Dynamics' expertise in the field to help improve their existing robot line and develop new, more useful robots.
It's also possible that SoftBank understands the value of Boston Dynamics' cutting-edge research better than Google does, or is simply more willing to finance it until it goes to market. Boston Dynamics has spent the past few years making robots that can perform many of the same tasks as humans can, and that research may be about to pay off. Funding that kind of research is a gamble for a company like Google or SoftBank, and it may be a gamble that only SoftBank is willing to make.
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