Hyundai has been going through a high-tech growth spurt over the past few years. According to Autoblog, the automaker just spent $1.1 billion dollars to acquire Boston Dynamics, and they now own an 80% stake of the company. Boston Dynamics is a robotics company known for their robot dog.
This isn’t the first time Hyundai has shown an interest in the robotics sector. They’re trying to compete with other large automakers like Tesla in the electric vehicle market, and have explored new ideas like “walking” cars that rely on robotics.
For now, Hyundai is focused on improving the manufacturing process using Boston’s worker robots. Here’s more details about what the company hopes to accomplish with robotics.
Robotics are becoming an even bigger part of car manufacturing
Spot, the robot dog, has a new home with Hyundai
The acquisition of Boston Dynamics makes Hyundai the new owner of Spot: the high-tech worker robot of the future. Softbank still holds 20% ownership of the company.
According to Autoblog, Hyundai is the third company to acquire Boston Dynamics. Boston Dynamics was founded as an MIT spinoff, and purchased by Google in 2013. In 2017, Softbank purchased the company. Hyundai’s interest in robotics has grown over the past couple of years, and they hope to create a “robotics value chain,” as reported by Autoblog.
Hyundai has big plans for Spot and Boston Dynamics
Hyundai’s main interest in robotics is to improve car manufacturing. Spot, and other worker robots from Boston Dynamics’ warehouse, will help with producing car parts, construction, and automation.
Boston Dynamics has a robot named Stretch, which is able to pick up boxes and move them around. Robots can do repetitive actions, and move heavy objects without needing a break. This will decrease manufacturing costs for Hyundai, and reduce the amount of dangerous tasks that human employees have to take on.
In Hyundai’s promo video for their collaboration with Boston Dynamics, the robot dog was used as a guide dog for the blind and a hospital helper. This points to Hyundai’s plans to expand the use cases for robot helpers even further in the future.
Spot comes with some controversy
Consumers might be supportive of automakers using robots for auto manufacturing, but there is controversy surrounding robot-use in other areas. Boston Dynamics has faced backlash from residents and officials when it was tested for the military and used by the New York Police Department, as reported by Engadget.
The NYPD decided not to deploy Spot and cancelled a lease for the device. Critics talked about the privacy concerns that come with the robot, and Spot has spurred arguments about surveillance.
Hyundai is looking to Boston Dynamics’ robots for manufacturing and mobility purposes. The promos showed no signs of robots used for enforcement or involved in combat. An efficient manufacturing process can help Hyundai save costs, and these savings can trickle down to consumers.
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