Japan’s SoftBank Acquiring Two Robotics Companies from Alphabet

Softbank

Robots, get your robots here. Yup, robots are for sale and SoftBank is a buyer. Alphabet, Googles parent company, is selling a couple of its firms that manufacture robots (YES, real robots, that actually mimic human movement) to the Japanese company which will incorporate SoftBank’s already active artificial intelligence portfolio. Just great, now those robot-y things will learn to think too.
(Bill Taylor/CEO)

“SoftBank Group Corp said it would buy two firms that build walking robots from Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, adding to the Japanese company’s growing artificial intelligence portfolio.

SoftBank said it would buy Boston Dynamics and Tokyo-based Schaft, which design and manufacture robots that simulate human movement, but did not disclose the terms of the transactions.

Shares of the company rose as much as 7.9 percent after the deal was announced, hitting a 17-year high.

“Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution, and Marc (Raibert) and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots,” SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son said in a statement on Friday.

Raibert is CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics.

SoftBank has embarked on an aggressive acquisition campaign to boost its research and development capabilities. The group is backing the $93 billion Vision Fund, the world’s largest private equity fund that seeks to invest in technologies expected to grow significantly in the near future, such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

Son, Japan’s richest man, describes the fund as essential for setting up SoftBank for a data “gold rush” which he expects to happen as the global economy becomes increasingly digitized….

“Robotics as a field has great potential, and we’re happy to see Boston Dynamics and Schaft join the SoftBank team to continue contributing to the next generation of robotics,” an Alphabet spokesperson said…

The company was acquired by Google in 2013 during a robotics shopping spree led by Android creator Andy Rubin, but the team struggled to find its place within the tech giant after Rubin’s departure, former Boston Dynamics employees said…”

Source: Reuters