You might know Boston Dynamics as the makers of the adorable robo-dog, Spot. Or you might have come across their AI-enabled robot, Atlas that can even do parkour. Recently, Hyundai Motor Company has confirmed that they have bought a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank. According to the deal, the American robotics developer has been valued at $1.1 billion and Hyundai has 80 per cent shares while SoftBank still owns 20 per cent.
Through this acquisition, both companies plan to have a synergy between their operations and leverage the strengths of each other and grow together. While this might seem like an odd match at first, it is actually not. Hyundai has been investing heavily in smart mobility solutions to stay ahead of its competitors. With cars becoming smarter and more connected, having a company that specialises in robotics and AI can be a great asset in the long run. We are already seeing AI assistants in cars that can understand voice commands and perform small tasks like opening the sunroof, playing music and changing the temperature settings. With the advent of autonomous vehicles, the reliability of AI will only increase.
The future that we only saw in CGI-rendered posters could be coming close to reality at last. After spending years in development, Boston Dynamic’s first product has entered commercial production. Spot has been employed in various industries including construction, mining, manufacturing and more. Some of you might remember Elevate, a ‘walking car’ that was introduced to the world by Hyundai in 2019. The idea behind the concept was that this vehicle would be able to navigate terrains that even the best 4×4 cannot. It could be a great platform for building vehicles for disaster relief or emergency assistance vehicles. The learnings from Spot and other mobile robots could definitely come in handy when developing vehicles like Elevate.
Boston Dynamics recently showcased a new product called Stretch. It is a mobile robotics unit meant to be used in warehouses and distribution centres and can move packages. This could also be used for inventory management at Hyundai’s plants across the globe for even more efficient operations. Many robots are used in manufacturing vehicles already and Hyundai Motor India claimed that their most recent product, the Alcazar SUV was made using over 650 4th generation robots. Adding more robots to the assembly line could result in faster production with tighter tolerances for quality levels. By employing more robots that are smarter as well, production lines could continue working even during a situation as we have now. The robots could be controlled remotely or with a minimum number of staff present on-site.
It would surely be interesting to see how this partnership plays out in the days to come and how other manufacturers adapt and respond.
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