The Strategist

Toyota to become new owner of Boston Dynamics

05/31/2016 - 15:19

Japanese Toyota may buy Boston Dynamics, Alphabet’s unit producing robots, according to Tech Insider, citing people familiar with the situation.

Legged Squad Support System robot prototype by Boston Dynamics (
Legged Squad Support System robot prototype by Boston Dynamics (
Messages that Alphabet is selling Boston Dynamics appeared in March this year. Among potential buyers for the robot manufacturer showed up Research Institute of Japanese carmaker Toyota and American Amazon Corporation, which already have experience with robots. In particular, Amazon using robots in their distribution centers.

According to Tech Insider, Toyota will become Boston Dynamics’ new owner. The company is going to make the robot producer part of Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which develops artificial intelligence systems for cars and domestic robots.

The publication’s source reports that the contracts have already been signed, yet the financial side of the deal has not disclosed yet. Last year, Toyota founded the Research Institute with aim to develop artificial intelligence and robotics. The organization’s Executive Director is Gill Pratt. Earlier, Pratt worked with founder and CEO of Boston Dynamics Marc Raibert.

Boston Dynamics have earned a worldwide reputation thanks to its promotional video, showing abilities of the company’s robots. Social networks even used to blame the company for inhumane treatment of robots. On the videos, the machines are pushed, beaten and in every possible way are prevented to perform tasks.

Management of Alphabet holding doubts Boston Dynamics’ ability to generate profits in the coming years. Insiders quoted Larry Page’s adviser, Jonathan Rosenberg. He said that the company cannot afford to spend more than 30% of the resources on those things, which implementation takes more than 10 years. "There is a time period in which we have to generate enough money to cover our costs - and it's only a few years", - said Rosenberg.

Boston Dynamics company was bought by Google in 2013 within a robotics development program. The purchase was directed by Head of Android department Andy Rubin, who resigned from his post in 2014. By that time, Google had already had an existed unit dealing with robots - Replicant.

Complex relationships within Replicant became yet another reason for the sale, since Google bought Boston Dynamics precisely to strengthen Replicant.

The main problem was the reluctance of Boston Dynamics’ management to work with other Google engineers in California and Tokyo, and the manufacturer's lack of ideas to create products that can be released in the near future.

For a while, there were negotiations about how to combine the unit with Google X laboratory, which is engaged in the company’s most ambitious programs. However, this did not happen due to the fact that "Boston Dynamics does not deal with problems that Google X is trying to solve".