Toyota Is Buying Up Robotics Companies. Could Boston Dynamics Be Next?

By Carli Velocci on at

In March, the Toyota Research Institute bought up Cambridge (Massachusetts)-based startup Jaybridge Robotics, and according to Tech Insider, they may be expanding with another famous Massachusetts company: Google’s Boston Dynamics, the maker of the Big Dog and Atlas robots.

Google has been talking about selling the Waltham-based Boston Dynamics, for a couple of months now, with companies such as Toyota Research Institute and named as interested parties. Around that time, TRI, which seeks to create a car that is incapable of crashing, announced a deal to acquire Jaybridge, a 16-member software engineering company in order to add more expertise to creating “autonomous vehicle products.”

Tech Insider noted that the deal hasn’t been finalised, but that “the ink is nearly dry.”

On the other side of the alleged deal is Google, which acquired the Waltham-based company in 2013. However, while the company has created viral hits such as BigDog and Atlas, it hasn’t seen much commercial success for its future.

Robots such as Atlas could be used in place of humans when it comes to dangerous situations, but have only been used in field trials. Success in the field can only come after many years of research.

According to The Boston Globe, there were also reports that tech superpower didn’t have much of a strategy when it came to robotics and had decided not to pursue defence contracts.

“Someone woke up and said, ‘Boston Dynamics is costing us a ton of money, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be anything commercial out of that,’” Charlie Grinnell, chief executive of Harvest Automation, told the Globe.

So what could TRI be doing with these robotics companies if its original intent was in automobile technologies? Toyota announced in 2015 that it was looking to spend $1 billion over five years to expand into artificial intelligence and robotics research.

Boston Dynamics has pioneered machines that can adapt and interact with their surrounding environments: we’ve all seen the videos of people trying to push over and otherwise harass Big Dog and Atlas. As companies are increasingly looking towards automated cars, that adaptability would be a crucial asset towards vehicular safety. [Tech Insider]