Hyundai Motor Company is apparently in the midst of inking a nearly $1 billion deal to acquire Boston Dynamics, the robotics company you probably know as the maker of those unsettling four-legged robots that terrify and delight YouTube browsers. (And which you can buy for just shy of $75,000—or more for enterprise versions.) Those quadrupeds as a whole likely have little to do with Hyundai Motor’s automotive aspirations, but you can bet the automaker is after the robots’ software.
You see, Boston Dynamics long ago mastered the creation of walking, running, leaping, and all-around horrifying legged robots. It also works on autonomy—with those robots possessing autonomous capabilities not unlike, well, self-driving cars or factory vehicles.
Whereas self-driving cars and trucks don’t feature in any nightmare-inspiring YouTube videos that we know of, in which they’re bearing down on humans less intelligent or dexterous than themselves, Hyundai and a bevy of other automakers are hoping to deliver such vehicles to non-terrified customers in the coming years, as well as lean on them for use in factory settings. Boston Dynamics’ programming know-how and experience in the field could prove invaluable to Hyundai in making a Sonata that can pick your drunk self up from the bar—whenever you can go to those again, of course—and shuttle you home safely sans driver, or even to produce automated forklifts and the like.
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Hyundai’s cost to acquire that know-how won’t be cheap. Per Engadget, as reported in The Korea Economic Daily, Hyundai will fork over about $917 million for Boston Dynamics. This will free Boston Dynamics from its current suitor, Softbank, which purchased the outfit from Google’s parent company Alphabet some years ago.
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