Alphabet, the company that holds Google, has been rumored to be in search of a buyer for its Robotic Division, Boston Dynamics. The deal seems to have been getting closer to be sealed, and sources say that this mysterious buyer is no other than Toyota.
Boston Dynamics was trying to create a consumer product for a couple of years and did not yet succeed. As the company’s executives lost hope, they started to analyze a selling opportunity. Toyota is now a favorite. Another interested party in this sale was believed to have been Amazon.
The Toyota acquisition of the robotic project may have been determined by its connections with the Research Institute. Gill Prats, the CEO of the Institute, is a friend of one of Boston Dynamics’ managers.
Before having been bought by Google, the company had undergoing contracts with the US military, and Google had to continue the existing contract even though it was of no interest to them.
In 2014, the tension between the division and the new owner escalated. The result was at Andy Rubin, co-founder of Boston Dynamics, left the company. Rubin refused to cease the independent research at the company and resisted Google’s intentions to create consumer products.
“At the end of the day what I saw was a sense of us and them instead of a we — we weren’t part of Google, we were sort of a separate thing,” said a former Boston employee.
Rumors say that Google wanted Boston Dynamics to create a commercial robot that would be comfortable to humans and easy to use.
The robotic team seemed to refuse to renounce the study of a robot leg research and to accept Google’s project of a simpler version of robot what would move on wheels.
The climax took place in February, when Boston Dynamics presented their new robot, Atlas. Atlas was received with interest by the tech press, but it also brought back the old fear that robots will start to replace humans in working places.
This sale to Toyota’s Research Institute may be beneficial to both companies. Google will calm the situation created within the division, and Boston Dynamics could focus again on scientific research.
The Toyota Research Institute was established in November 2015 and started hiring in January this year. Its mission is to do research in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics.
Since its formation at the end of 2015, the Institute attracted many Boston Dynamics employees, who left the company to join the newly created Institute.
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