SoftBank agrees to buy robotic firms from Google-parent Alphabet

James Pearce
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Japanese giant SoftBank has struck an undisclosed deal to buy Boston Dynamics and Schaft as it expands its robotics portfolio

Japanese technology giant SoftBank has snapped up Alphabet-owned robotics firm Boston Dynamics for an undisclosed fee.

SoftBank, which owns a number of companies including US operator Sprint, has will also pick up Japanese-based firm Schaft as part of the definitive agreement.

SoftBank claimed the robotics innovations being developed by Boston Dynamics is “paradigm-shifting technology”, but did not disclose the terms of the transaction. It designs, develops and tests advanced robots.

Both Boston Dynamics and Schaft are owned by Google-parent Alphabet, with the former acquired by Google X in 2013. Google X began looking at options to sell off the firms last year, with the likes of Amazon and Toyota interested, according to Bloomberg at the time.

Marc Raibert, CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics, said, “We at Boston Dynamics are excited to be part of SoftBank’s bold vision and its position creating the next technology revolution, and we share SoftBank’s belief that advances in technology should be for the benefit of humanity. 

“We look forward to working with SoftBank in our mission to push the boundaries of what advanced robots can do and to create useful applications in a smarter and more connected world.”

The agreement comes as SoftBank neared the $100 billion mark for its investment pot. The Japanese firm did not state if the acquisition was financed by the $93 billion fund, which is backed by the likes of Apple and the Saudi Arabian government.

SoftBank already offers robotic solutions through its SoftBank Robotics arm, including Pepper, a robot designed with Aldebaran Robotics.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said: “Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution. Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots. I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family and look forward to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling.”