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Alphabet sells robotics leader Boston Dynamics

Alphabet sells robotics leader Boston Dynamics  article image

Japanese internet, solar and technology company SoftBank Group Corp is buying robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics from Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.

As part of the deal, SoftBank will also buy Schaft, another Alphabet subsidiary and humanoid robotics company. However the terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Tokyo-based SoftBank, which offers the chatty childlike Pepper companion robot, said the purchase underlines how robotics is a key part of its business.

Google acquired Boston Dynamics in late 2013 as part of its robotics division known as Replicant.

Boston Dynamics makes various robots, including Big Dog and Spot, which are complex machines that walk and trot on four legs. Another is Atlas, which walks on two legs like a human. Atlas has arms and can open doors and lift items. Some were designed for military purposes.

The sale follows months of speculation that Alphabet was planning to sell Boston Dynamics.

Alphabet said it remains committed to robotics, such as connecting human-like motor skills, including hand-eye coordination, to machines so they can process images, speech, text and draw pictures.

Great potential

It is also interested in research on helping robots learn from what they "experience," Alphabet said in a statement.

"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," it said.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said robots will help solve problems that have been beyond human capabilities.

"Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution," he said in a statement last week.

"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," Son said of Boston Dynamics and Schaft.

Marc Raibert, CEO of Boston Dynamics, said he looked forward to working with SoftBank on creating technology for "a smarter and more connected world."

"We share SoftBank's belief that advances in technology should be for the benefit of humanity," he said.

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