SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor and its Chairman Euisun Chung have agreed to buy an 80 percent stake in robot maker Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group as the automaker group seeks to expand factory automation and design autonomous cars, drones and robots.
Hyundai said the deal values the robot company at $1.1 billion, suggesting the automaker group offered $880 million for the 80 percent stake.
Chung wants to reduce Hyundai's reliance on traditional car manufacturing, saying robotics would account for 20 percent of the company's future business, with car-making taking up 50 percent, followed by urban air mobility at 30 percent.
Chung will own a 20 percent stake in Boston Dynamics, while Hyundai Motor and its affiliates, Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis, will hold a combined 60 percent stake.
Softbank Group CEO Masayoshi Son said the partnership with Hyundai would accelerate the robot maker's path to commercialization.
Boston Dynamics, which was spun out from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, was bought by Google in 2013 and sold to SoftBank in 2017.
"The transaction will unite capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility," Chung said in a statement on Friday.
Boston Dynamics' products include Spot, a four-legged dog-like robot that can climb stairs, and have gained media attention even as it struggled to build a commercial business. Customers include Ford, which leased two Spot robots in July as part of a pilot program.
"Hyundai needs to prove that Boston Dynamics can be commercially successful and is capable of competing with cheaper Chinese rivals," said Koh Tae-bong, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.