Menu
SoftBank targets service industries with new robotics acquisition

SoftBank targets service industries with new robotics acquisition

Alphabet is selling its robotics division to Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank

SoftBank's latest robotics acquisition could allow it to open up a whole new market for service industries and home help.

Its customer service and companion robot, Pepper, is somewhat limited by the fact that it can't do much more than wave its arms and talk.

Now, though, SoftBank has its eyes on the fetching and carrying capabilities of BigDog and Spot, the dog-sized pack robots developed by Boston Robotics.

SoftBank, originally an ISP and mobile network operator, moved into robotics in 2014 when it bought Aldebaran, the French company behind the diminutive humanoid robots Pepper and Nao.

Aldebaran was known for its work on recognizing and responding to human emotions, and its robots have found a niche for themselves welcoming guests in high-end hotels and retail stores. They also play a role as listening companions, with applications in health care, education and care for the elderly.

What Pepper and Nao can't do, though, is carry luggage or shopping, or help around the home. That's where Boston Dynamics comes in.

The company started life as a developer of military pack robots, before it was acquired by Google. Following the search giant's restructuring as Alphabet, though, Boston Dynamics didn't really fit in. The company's robotics division lost direction after its head, Android creator Andy Rubin, left to build a new smartphone.

Boston Dynamics and another Alphabet-owned property, the Japanese robot designer Schaft, had been up for sale since early last year.

Four legs good, two legs better?

Schaft makes two-legged robots for industrial and service tasks and while Boston Dynamics made a name for itself with four-legged robots, it has more recently been working on a two-legged model that can run and jump, called Handle.

With its alien-cyborg-warrior vibe, it's unlikely people would welcome Handle into their homes, but if SoftBank can blend Handle's physical capabilities with Pepper's wide-eyed, soft-voiced demeanor, it could have a domestic hit on its hands.

Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank, clearly wants Boston Dynamics to walk away from the battlefield, saying that under his ownership the company will explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments