Google parent Alphabet has offloaded its robotics businesses SCHAFT and Boston Dynamics to SoftBank.
The latter sale was not unexpected, as Alphabet is thought to have wanted to rid itself of the business since March 2016, as it had missed key military contracts, was beset by management turbulence and had little prospect of winning revenue. Alphabet only acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013. But there's been no sign Alphabet is unhappy with SCHAFT, an outfit that won a DARPA challenge in 2014 with a bipedal robot, secured funding from Google ventures and then disappeared from view.
Terms of the sale have not been disclosed, but the canned statement involved SoftBank expressing hope that its new toys will help to solve problems people can't tackle alone. Boston Dynamics' CEO and founder Marc Raibert declared himself “excited to be part of SoftBank’s bold vision and its position creating the next technology revolution.”
When Google co-founder Larry Page announced the creation of Alphabet, the company that owns Google and many other ventures, he wrote:
“We are excited about … Empowering great entrepreneurs and companies to flourish” and “Investing at the scale of the opportunities and resources we see.” He also said Alphabet aimed at “improving the lives of as many people as we can.”
With its robotics businesses gone, can we conclude that Alphabet felt neither was worthy of investment or were likely to improve lives? And if so, does that apply to all robots? ®