Are you ready to get a robo-pet from Hyundai?
The famous Boston Dynamics robot dogs will have a new owner. The American developer is being acquired by Korean giant Hyundai Motor. According to the Korean press, the deal is worth almost a billion dollars.
The four-legged robot dog Spot, the android acrobat Atlas, and the wheeled goose loader Handle are hardly the Internet’s most beloved robots. Boston Dynamics must be proud of its nearly two million YouTube subscribers and the worldwide popularity of its pets.
Only it’s not entirely clear why the big automaker needs these toys. According to The Korea Economic Daily, the purchase cost Hyundai $921 million-not a $19 billion WhatsApp, of course, but not an out-of-pocket expense, either.
First and foremost, the company will use BD’s developments precisely in the production cycle. In industrial robots, in manipulators, in machines.
The new business owners are voicing ambitious plans. In October the Hyundai Chairman declared his intention to increase the share of robotics in the company’s business structure to 20% – cars will account for half of its sales and the remaining 30% will be occupied by urban air mobility.
20% of the Hyundai Group means millions of robots per year.
Service robotics and co-bots (these are collaborative robots) are developing very actively right now. Not everyone understands how to monetize this niche, but strategically we feel there is good money and good growth opportunities there.
Corporate clients and big businesses will be the first customers in the robot market. Users will have access to new technologies when robots become cheaper to produce and everyone can afford them, like a new iPhone.
Why do we need robo-pets?
Now the skeptics are asking a lot of questions: why do we need them? What will they do? At this stage in the use of robots, most commands are given only with a joystick. But these are just the first steps. Think back to those first steps of smartphones in the late ’90s. Everyone thought it was probably something unnecessary, too.
The custom robotics revolution will not necessarily be started by Boston Dynamics. The company has changed owners three times in the last ten years, but it has shown us that the future is much closer than it looks.
It is likely that in the nearest future, mechanized pets devoid of most of the disadvantages of living organisms can become part of your home. A robo-dog won’t bark or ruin your furniture if you don’t go for a walk; it will know as many commands as you download and will never get a genetic disease. But can he replace the warmth of a real animal whose life is very fragile, but completely devoted to you?
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