Inside Logistics

Hyundai Motor Group buying Boston Dynamics

Component manufacturing to smart logistics solutions


December 31, 2020
by

BOSTON/SEOUL/TOKYO – Hyundai Motor Group will acquire a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics in a deal that values the mobile robot firm at US$1.1 billion.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close by June of 2021.

Under the agreement, Hyundai Motor Group will hold an approximately 80% stake in Boston Dynamics and SoftBank, through one of its affiliates, will retain an approximately 20% stake in Boston Dynamics after the closing of the transaction. Hyundai Motor Group’s affiliates – Hyundai Motor Co., Hyundai Mobis Co. and Hyundai Glovis Co. – and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung respectively participated in the acquisition.

The deal is also expected to allow Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to leverage each other’s respective strengths in manufacturing, logistics, construction and automation.

“We are delighted to have Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots, join the Hyundai team. This transaction will unite capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility. The synergies created by our union offer exciting new pathways for our companies to realize our goal – providing free and safe movement and higher plane of life experiences for humanity,” said Euisun Chung, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group.

“We will also contribute to the society by enhancing its safety, security, public health amid global trends of aging society and digital transformation.”

“Boston Dynamics’ commercial business has grown rapidly as we’ve brought to market the first robot that can automate repetitive and dangerous tasks in workplaces designed for human-level mobility. We and Hyundai share a view of the transformational power of mobility and look forward to working together to accelerate our plans to enable the world with cutting edge automation, and to continue to solve the world’s hardest robotics challenges for our customers,” said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics.

Boston Dynamics produces mobile robots with advanced mobility, dexterity and intelligence, enabling automation in difficult, dangerous, or unstructured environments. The company launched sales of its first commercial robot, Spot in June of 2020 and has since sold hundreds of robots in a variety of industries, such as power utilities, construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining.

Boston Dynamics plans to expand the Spot product line early next year with an enterprise version of the robot with greater levels of autonomy and remote inspection capabilities, and the release of a robotic arm, which will be a breakthrough in mobile manipulation.

Boston Dynamics is also entering the logistics automation market with the Pick, a computer vision-based depalletizing solution, and will introduce a mobile robot for warehouses in 2021.

Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, Hyundai Motor Group is a global automotive group operating in the automobile, steel, construction, machine tools, logistics, and other industries. With more than 16,000 employees working in 40 facilities across 10 states, including its $1.8 billion auto manufacturing plant in Alabama, Hyundai Motor Group is an established investor, manufacturer, and innovator in the United States.

Hyundai Motor Group’s AI and Human Robot Interaction (HRI) expertise is highly synergistic with Boston Dynamics’s 3D vision, manipulation, and bipedal/quadruped expertise.

Hyundai Motor Group will provide Boston Dynamics a strategic partner affording access to Hyundai Motor Group’s in-house manufacturing capability and cost benefits stemming from efficiencies of scale. Boston Dynamics will benefit from new capital, technology, affiliated customers, and Hyundai Motor Group’s global market reach enhancing commercialization opportunity for its robot products.

The investment in Boston Dynamics furthers Hyundai’s portfolio of technology that addresses opportunities for both service robots and logistics robots. Service robots like Spot have the potential to perform dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks in settings where automation has been challenging to implement. With its computer vision solution, Pick, for depalletizing and its mobile warehouse robot in development, Boston Dynamics will expand Hyundai’s footprint in logistics robots.