TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. is close to buying two robotics divisions from Google's parent company in a move to boost the carmaker's fledgling robotics business, a report said.
Toyota would buy Boston Dynamics, a U.S.-based firm, and Schaft, founded by a University of Tokyo graduate, Japan's Nikkei business daily reported today. Both are divisions of Google-parent Alphabet Inc.
The purchases would be made through Toyota's new artificial intelligence and robotics unit, the Toyota Research Institute, or TRI. Toyota invested $1 billion to establish TRI last year as an r&d incubator for technologies that can be deployed in autonomous cars and helper robots for work and home.
Toyota declined to comment directly on talks with Alphabet.
"Toyota and Toyota Research Institute (TRI) regularly discuss possible collaborations with outside partners to help create ever-better cars and to advance our r&d efforts," the carmaker said in a statement. "We do not have any further details to disclose about any of these discussions at this time."
The report of a possible robotics buyout comes as Toyota ventures farther afield from its traditional auto business with an eye toward next-generation technologies and revenue streams.
Earlier this month, the carmaker announced it was partnering with U.S. ride-sharing company Uber to explore new mobility services and in-car applications to support drivers.
Toyota announced the creation of TRI last November, saying the company will develop artificial intelligence systems that may guide autonomous vehicles and other products, such as household robots. More broadly Toyota wants to be a leader in programming software, just as it is in automotive hardware.
Toyota has been working on robots for years, saying they will underpin future driverless car technologies and advanced manufacturing techniques. Toyota says they will also be used in new businesses, such as robots that might help in nursing.
The company's lineup of gadgetry includes a small ensemble of robots that can play the violin, trumpet and drums, a Segway-like two wheeler called the Winglet and a so-called Human Support Robot that can help the elderly or infirm.