Japan’s big-betting holding firm SoftBank is buying Boston Dynamics, one of the most highly regarded robotics labs in the world, from Google’s parent company Alphabet, for an undisclosed price.
Google acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013 under the leadership of Andy Rubin, the co-inventor of Android, who was leading a wave of acquisitions of robotics companies under the search giant.
Boston Dynamics’ robots routinely make headlines, including a high-profile demo at this year’s TED conference. The company, led by CEO Marc Raibert, has made a robotic cheetah that can run 28 miles per hour, a robotic dog that it recently used to deliver packages to doorsteps in Boston, and most recently a massive legged and wheeled robot that can clear hurdles and walk down stairs.
The firm has been hailed by other roboticists for its ability to blend hardware and artificial intelligence to make machines capable of dynamic, agile movements. Its most recent wheeled robot, Handle, can manipulate objects that are comparable to its own weight, and its four-legged, animal-like robots can maneuver over different types of terrain.
One industry source said earlier this year that Boston Dynamics’ most recent machine “changes the whole ballgame.”
SoftBank is also buying Schaft, a Japan-based robotics firm that unveiled a bipedal walking robot last year, from Alphabet. A source close to the matter said Schaft, which was part of Google, never fully integrated into the company and operated as a sort of separate entity taking a different approach to robotics than the rest of Google.
The deal makes sense for SoftBank, which has been working in robotics for years, having acquired a majority stake in the robotics company Aldebaran in 2012. Aldebaran makes the humanoid robot Pepper, which is being used in retail and customer service settings throughout Japan, and increasingly in the U.S. SoftBank has also invested in related technologies, including buying chip design firm ARM Holdings last year for more than $30 billion. SoftBank also led a $20 million investment round in Fetch Robotics, a company that makes warehouse logistics robots, in 2015.
Rubin left Google in 2014 after driving a string of robotics acquisitions, which, sources have told Recode, left a number of the companies without much direction about what their role at Google would be.
Prior to being acquired by Google, Boston Dynamics largely operated on military research contracts. Its humanoid Atlas robot was used in DARPA’s robotics challenge in 2015.
“Robotics as a field has great potential, and we’re happy to see Boston Dynamics and Schaft join the SoftBank team to continue contributing to the next generation of robotics,” an Alphabet spokesperson said in a statement.
Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat declined to comment last week when Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher asked if Alphabet was selling Boston Dynamics.
“We still have quite a bit of robotics work that we’re doing within X,” Porat said, speaking at Code Conference.
Additional reporting by Tess Townsend.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.