Hyundai May Try to Build a Walking Car Out of This ‘Robot Dog’

  • According to a Bloomberg report, Softbank is reportedly looking to sell Boston Dynamics to Hyundai for $1 billion.
  • If true, that could mean Spot, the famous robot dog, could be getting a new owner.
  • We’re speculating that this has something to do with the South Korean automaker’s wild walking car concept.

    For its next trick, Spot—the world’s favorite robot dog, known for perusing the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, narcing on social distancing rule-breakers, and even working on oil rigs—could be getting a major treat from Hyundai.

    Softbank is reportedly in talks with the South Korean auto manufacturer to sell off its robotics company, Boston Dynamics Inc, according to a Bloomberg report. Supposedly, the transaction could be worth up to $1 billion.

    🤖You like badass robots. So do we. Let’s nerd out over them together.

    Why is Hyundai so interested in the robot dog? We have a theory, and it has something to do with Spot’s legs; Hyundai may want to adapt those limbs for its own completely wild walking car concept.

    At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Hyundai first debuted this so-called “Elevate” concept, which repaints a number of different electric vehicle concepts as legged insect-looking robots. As CNET’s Roadshow said at the time, the car is capable of driving at highway speeds, climbing five-foot walls, and stepping over five-foot wide chasms, rendering it as “basically an AT-AT from Star Wars.”

    Disney XDGetty Images

    In a January 2019 press release, Hyundai said its Elevate concept marks the first “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle,” a buzzword that basically means the world’s first car with legs. The company ultimately bills the strange cars as a possible solution in search-and-rescue operations.

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    “When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot. Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete,” John Suh, vice president at Hyundai, said in the release.

    That’s not super surprising, considering some of the coolest robots we’ve seen—from snake robots (see the wild video below), to drone fleets, to full-out robot squads of varying shape and size—have been for rescue missions in caves and even dangerous inspections in nuclear facilities.

    🤖 Our (Other) Favorite Robots

    If the deal does go through, it wouldn’t be the first time Spot got a new owner. Back in 1992, Boston Dynamics spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then in 2013, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, acquired the company for an undisclosed sum in 2013. Four years later, Softbank purchased Boston Dynamics. The specifics of that deal weren’t made public.

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