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A military-use variant of Boston Dynamics’ BigDog robot in training with US marines. Photo credit: Sarah Dietz.

The news:

  • SoftBank has announced that one of its subsidiaries will buy robotics companies Boston Dynamics and Schaft from Google holding company Alphabet. Both specialize in developing walking robots. The terms of the deal are not disclosed.
  • Google – which put itself and its subsidiaries under the auspices of newly formed Alphabet as part of a 2015 corporate restructuring – acquired the two companies amid a robotics-focused M&A drive back in 2013.

Why it matters:

  • It was reported in March last year that Alphabet was putting Boston Dynamics up for sale. Toyota has been one of the rumored suitors for the US company.
  • SoftBank has already made robotics a central pillar of its forward plans. Its “humanoid” robot Pepper was officially unveiled 2014 and has potential applications in areas as diverse as crowd control, multilingual translation, and elderly care, according to the Japanese company.
  • It is not clear at this stage if these acquisitions are linked to SoftBank’s US$93 billion-plus Vision Fund. The Japanese company has indicated that all of its investments over US$100 million, with the exception of those in ride-hailing businesses, will be carried out through the fund.

Source: TechCrunch.

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