Of all the companies that could have bought Boston Dynamics, Hyundai was not high on our list of likely suspects – yet here we are with one of the major automakers in the world now holding the keys to the most advanced mobile robotics company in the world.
Hyundai Motor Group (the Group), Boston Dynamics, Inc. and SoftBank Group Corp. (SoftBank), announced the completion of the completion of the Group’s acquisition of a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank, last June 21. Hyundai now controls 80% of Boston Dynamics and Softbank. The deal valued the mobile robotics company at roughly $1.1 billion.
To celebrate the deal, Boston Dynamics used seven of their Spot robots to choreograph a new dance video, done to BTS’s hit single, IONIQ: I’m On It.
The deal valued the mobile robot firm at US$1.1 billion. Additional financial details were not disclosed.
It all looks perfect. You might think the robots are listening and responding to the music as live dancers would, but they aren’t – they’re all moving according to carefully preprogrammed dance moves. Their obstacle avoidance features aren’t even engaged, so what you’re seeing is completely choreographed. The end result is mesmerizing.
“There were a lot of challenges around getting the vision of our choreographer, who’s used to dealing with human dancers, into our software,” notes Eric Whitman, a Boston Dynamics roboticist who had a lead role in the Spot’s On It video. “Everything had to be worked out in advance and scripted precisely. Robots have the advantage over humans in that they’re very repeatable: Once you get it right, it stays right. But they have the disadvantage that you have to tell them every little detail. They don’t improvise at all.”
Making the robots dance, as they have in previous videos, gives the Boston Dynamics team a chance to develop new motion algorithms, and discover new things to improve upon. Putting together a dance video like this one gives developers a creative target that leads to rapid innovation in how the robot can move. Dance also uncovers potential improvements in the physical design of the robot. Dancing is a form of highly accelerated lifecycle testing for the hardware. For instance, after dance testing revealed that slamming Spot’s knee with too much force could be damaging, so the company set out to find better materials for the robot’s upper legs.
BTS (Korean: ?????; RR: Bangtan Sonyeondan), also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean boy band that began formation in 2010 and debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. The group, composed of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, writes and produces much of their own material. Originally a hip hop group, their musical style has evolved to include a wide range of genres. Their lyrics, often focused on personal and social commentary, touch on the themes of mental health, troubles of school-age youth and coming-of-age, loss, the journey towards loving oneself, and individualism. Their work features references to literature and psychological concepts and includes an alternative universe storyline. The group has released several albums and performed on several world tours.
They got their introduction to Spot and Atlas in this newly released video:
About Boston Dynamics
Boston Dynamics is the established leader in developing agile, mobile robots that have been successfully integrated into business operations of many of the world’s leading industrial firms. Advanced robotics offer opportunities for rapid growth with the potential to positively impact society by making work safer and more productive.
By acquiring Boston Dynamics and securing a leading presence in the field of robotics, the Group takes another major step toward its strategic transformation into a Smart Mobility Solution Provider. To propel this transformation, the Group has invested substantially in the development of future technologies, including autonomous driving, artificial intelligence (AI), Urban Air Mobility (UAM), smart factories and robots.
In the field of robotics, the Group states their aim to develop advanced technologies that enhance people’s lives and promote safety, thereby realizing progress for humanity.
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