Google Selling Robotics Division Boston Dynamics To Toyota
Alphabet, Google's parent company, was reported to be looking to unload robotics division Boston Dynamics back in March.
It would seem that this has been achieved, with sources telling Tech Insider that the deal is almost finalized.
The company that will be acquiring Boston Dynamics is none other than Toyota. The price of the acquisition has not been revealed, but Tech Insider's source claims that the "ink is nearly dry" for the agreement.
According to the earlier report, Alphabet executives did not believe that Boston Dynamics will be able to create a consumer product within the next few years, leading to the decision to look for a buyer for the unit. In addition, tension has arisen between Alphabet and the team of Boston Dynamics.
Toyota's purchase of Boston Dynamics was referred to by a former employee of the robotics arm as a "friendly buyout" due to the connections that it has to the Toyota Research Institute, which was established in November 2015.
The Toyota Research Institute, which was created to focus on research on artificial intelligence and robotics, has Gill Pratt as its CEO. Pratt used to work with Boston Dynamics CEO and founder Marc Raibert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Several Google employees working on robotics have left the company to move to the Toyota Research Institute, including Google robotics division co-founder James Kuffner and Boston Dynamics operations manager Joseph Bondaryk.
The United States military funded most of the early projects of Boston Dynamics, and when it was acquired by Google, it allowed the team to honor its existing contracts with the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Google, however, was not interested in creating military robots.
Tension between Google and Boston Dynamics escalated in 2014, when Google robotics division co-founder Andy Rubin left the company. Rubin allowed Boston Dynamics to carry out its own research, but Google started to push for the team to work on a product that they could release to consumers.
The sale to Toyota would be a good situation for both Google and Boston Dynamics, as Google will be getting rid of a source of tension, and Boston Dynamics will not be pushed to create a consumer product, as the Toyota Research Institute is focused on research.