Japanese tech giant Softbank is the new owner and said the deal – reported to be worth more than US$100mln – will help to keep it at the forefront of “the next wave of smart robotics”.
Not commercially viable
Boston Dynamics’ eye-catching robots – which include the dog-like Spot, a life-sized humanoid called Atlas and a sprinting cheetah – have often been in the headlines.
But despite their fame on social media sites such as YouTube, Alphabet has been unable to turn them into a viable business and put the division up for sale back in 2016.
SoftBank – which bought British microchip company ARM Holdings for US$32bn last year – is known for its outlandish bets on long-term ideas, while its eccentric chief executive, Masayoshi Son, has made no secret of his enthusiasm for robots.
“Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities,” said Son.
“Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution, and Marc [Reibert] and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots.”
Swift exit from robot space
Under the deal, SoftBank will also acquire another of Alphabet’s robotics business Schaft.
Alphabet snapped Schaft up back in 2013 as part of a broader push into the field of robotics, which saw the tech giant invest in another seven robotics firms that same year.
That approach was led by Andy Rubin, the former leader of Google’s Android mobile unit, although he left not long after to set up his own smartphone firm.
Following Rubin’s departure and the recent group restructuring, robots have taken a back seat, with Alphabet now seemingly more intent on developing it driverless cars and artificial intelligence.