Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google has finally found a buyer for Boston Dynamics, its robotics arm. According to reports, Google has sold Boston Dynamics and Schaft, another robotics outfit it acquired earlier, to Japanese venture capital firm Softbank Group Corp. (SFTBY). Terms of the deal were not disclosed. "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," a Google spokesperson said.
Google acquired Boston Dynamics in 2014 for an undisclosed amount but put it up for sale last year after concluding that the company would take years to produce a marketable product. Meanwhile, the robotics company has made progress by designing robots that were flexible as well as "nightmare-inducing." (See also: Why Alphabet Is Looking to Sell Its Robotics Unit.)
SoftBank is an avid investor in robotics and artificial intelligence. Its founder Masayoshi Son believes that robots will outnumber humans in 30 years and is intent on investing in "emotional robots." To that end, the venture capital firm paid $100 million in 2012 to acquire Aldebaran Robotics, a French robotics firm that designed Pepper, a humanoid robot. In recent times, SoftBank has stepped up its efforts to commercialize Pepper. The robot was part of a pilot test conducted by Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM) at its Pizza Hut franchise restaurants last year. SoftBank is also reportedly planning an app platform with which developers can design custom tasks, such as cleaning the floor or serving customers, for the robot. (See also: Robots Really Do Take Jobs.)
Research firm Loup Ventures has estimated that the market for commercial robotics, which includes drones and automated guided vehicles in addition to robots like Pepper, grew 29.1 percent to $4.9 billion last year. According to the firm, the market for commercial robots will grow to $29.9 billion by 2025. (See also: Why Robotics Stocks Will Rise in the Age of Trump.)