Spot, the world’s favorite robot dog, known for perusing the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, narrowing on rule-breakers of social distance, and even operating on oil rigs, might be getting a big treat from Hyundai for its next trick.
According to a Bloomberg report, Softbank is reportedly in talks with the South Korean auto manufacturer to sell off its robotics unit, Boston Dynamics Inc. The transaction may potentially be worth up to 1 billion.
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.”
In a press release in January 2019, Hyundai said its Elevate design marks the first “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle,” a buzzword that literally means the first car with legs in the world. Ultimately, the organization bills the weird vehicles in search-and-rescue operations as a potential alternative.
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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.