SoftBank to Boost its Technology Portfolio by Buying Robotics Firms from Alphabet

Published Date : Jun 09, 2017

SoftBank Group Corp. a Japanese multinational telecom and Internet Corporation, announced on June 9, 2017 that a unit of the company intends to buy Boston Dynamics, a U.S.-based firm and Tokyo-based Schaft from Alphabet Inc., an American multinational conglomerate pioneering in developing walking robots. The firms are involved in designing and manufacturing robots that closely simulate human movements.

Next-Generation Advanced Robotics Technology to Witness Fillip

The specific terms of the contract are yet to be revealed and will help SoftBank to consolidate its portfolio of artificial intelligence (AI) offerings. After the Japanese group announced the deal, its shares shot up to as high as 7.9 per cent, reaching a new high in 17 years.

The group is ebulliently espousing US$93 billion Vision Fund, the world's largest private equity fund and to this end has embarked on an ambitious acquisition campaign by investing in next-generation technologies. As stated by SoftBank Group’s chairman Masayoshi Son, smart robotics is a key enabler of next generation information revolution. He has further hailed the efforts of Boston Dynamics and Schaft and exhort them to continue harnessing the vast potential of advanced robotics technology.

Acquired Firms World Technology Leaders in Smart Robotics

Schaft specializes in bipedal robotics helpful in navigating uneven terrain and has been secretive in its efforts for quite some time. On the other hand, Boston Dynamics, a U.S.-based technology leader, has been at the forefront in producing a number of robots that mimic human and animal movements, including Atlas, the famed Bipedal humanoid robot. The companies were already acquired by Alphabet, called Google at the time, in 2013.

Boston Dynamics is renowned for developing robots that appear futuristic and most of its projects are co-funded by the U.S. defense. As a result, the acquisition will be likely to be subject to regulatory approvals from Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. According to Arnis Mangolds, a robotics expert who has worked with Boston Dynamics, states that the firms are actively advancing the state-of-the art technology in smart robotics.