The Japanese company SoftBank will buy two robotics companies owned by Google. Contrary to what its name suggests, the Japanese company SoftBank is not a bank but a telecommunications company. Softbank loves technology and especially robots.
In 2015, it bought the French Aldebaran (Nao, Pepper). It has just announced the acquisition of two US robotics companies owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, Schaft and Boston Dynamics.
Robots for military use
Schaft and Boston Dynamics specialize in bipedal and quadruped mobile robots. They already have several astounding creatures like Atlas, a kind of Robocop standing on two legs; Spot, a big dog robot that always falls on its paws and can carry military equipment or Handle, a robot on wheels that jumps to 1.2 meters high.
All this would be even a bit creepy. This would be partly because it gives a disturbing picture of the Google Galaxy, which Alphabet would be willing to get rid of these two companies. Schaft and Boston Dynamics are working with the US military, and the US government has yet to agree to the buy-in.
Behind SoftBank, a visionary
Behind SoftBank, the CEO, Masayoshi Son, is fond of investing in new emerging technologies. He regularly visits Silicon Valley and claims to have been a friend of Steve Jobs.
Masayoshi Son has a vision. For now, SoftBank does not really innovate but puts the package on the acquisition of innovative companies because it wants to become the biggest technology investor in the world. Last year, the group joined forces with Saudi Arabia to create the world’s largest technology investment fund.
SoftBank wants to become a global player in robotics and artificial intelligence. Masayoshi Son believes much in the “technological singularity,” the rather controversial idea that artificial intelligence will one day exceed human intelligence. SoftBank Robotics is in any case undeniably a company to follow closely.