Japanese Internet major, SoftBank has announced that it is acquiring two robotics companies from Alphabet namely Big Dog developer Boston Dynamics and the secretive bipedal robotics firm Schaft to add to its artificial intelligence portfolio.
"Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution, and Marc (Raibert) and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots," SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son said in a statement. Raibert is CEO and founder of Boston Dynamics.
Google acquired Boston Dynamics, one of the most highly regarded robotics labs in the world in 2013 under the leadership of Andy Rubin, Android's co-founder. Raibert said that his company is "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."
While Boston Dynamics routinely make headlines, Schaft seems to enjoy its quiet presence in the world of robots. Schaft revealed its first big prototypes only about two years after the acquisition. The company has been around since 2012, after being incubated in the JSK Robotics Laboratory at the University of Tokyo by co-founders Yuto Nakanishi, Junichi Urata, Narito Suzuki and Koichi Nishiwaki.
SoftBank, has been working in robotics for years. It acquired a majority stake in the robotics company Aldebaran in 2012. Aldebaran makes the humanoid robot Pepper, that's used in retail and customer service settings throughout Japan. The Japanese conglomerate has also invested in related technologies, including buying chip design firm ARM Holdings last year for more than $30 billion. SoftBank also led a $20 million investment round in Fetch Robotics, a company that makes warehouse logistics robots, in 2015.