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Walking Cars Could Come from a Hyundai–Boston Dynamics Deal

  • According to a Bloomberg report, Softbank is looking to sell Boston Dynamics to Hyundai for $1 billion.
  • If true, that could mean Spot, the famous robot dog, could be getting a new owner.
  • We’re speculating that this has something to do with the South Korean automaker’s wild walking-car concept.

    For its next trick, Spot—the world’s favorite robot dog, known for perusing the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, narcing on social distancing rule breakers, and even working on oil rigs—could be getting a major treat from Hyundai.

    Softbank is reportedly in talks with the Korean auto manufacturer to sell off its robotics company, Boston Dynamics, according to a Bloomberg report. Supposedly, the transaction could be worth up to $1 billion. Why is Hyundai so interested in the robot dog? We have a theory, and it has something to do with Spot’s legs; Hyundai may want to adapt those limbs for its own completely wild walking-car concept.

    At the 2019 CES technology show in Las Vegas, Hyundai debuted its Elevate concept, which repaints a number of different electric vehicle concepts as legged insect-looking robots. As Car and Driver reported at the time, the car “has four wheels mounted on robotic legs that can move around in all sorts of different configurations to traverse essentially any terrain you can imagine.”

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    Disney XDGetty Images

    In a January 2019 press release, Hyundai said its Elevate concept marks the first “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle,” a buzzword that basically means the world’s first car with legs. The company ultimately bills the strange cars as a possible solution in search-and-rescue operations.

    vehicle, yellow, transport, mode of transport, car, automotive exterior, construction equipment, automotive design, bulldozer, asphalt,

    Hyundai

    “When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot. Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete,” John Suh, vice president at Hyundai, said in the release.

    That’s not super surprising, considering some of the coolest robots we’ve seen—from snake robots to drone fleets to full-out robot squads of varying shape and size—have been for rescue missions in caves and even dangerous inspections in nuclear facilities.

    hyundai walking car concept

    Hyundai

    If the deal does go through, it wouldn’t be the first time Spot got a new owner. Back in 1992, Boston Dynamics spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then in 2013, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, acquired the company for an undisclosed sum in 2013. Four years later, Softbank purchased Boston Dynamics. The specifics of that deal weren’t made public.

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