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Hyundai Motor Group (Hyundai) today announced the launch of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute. Hyundai and Boston Dynamics are making an initial investment of more than $400 million to make fundamental advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and intelligent machines.
The institute will be led by Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics. Hyundai said the name of the institute could change after its corporate registration is complete. The institute will work on four technical areas:
- Cognitive AI
- Athletic AI
- Organic hardware design
- Ethics and policy
“Our mission is to create future generations of advanced robots and intelligent machines that are smarter, more agile, perceptive and safer than anything that exists today,” said Raibert, executive director of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute. “The unique structure of the Institute — top talent focused on fundamental solutions with sustained funding and excellent technical support — will help us create robots that are easier to use, more productive, able to perform a wider variety of tasks, and that are safer working with people.”
In addition to developing technology with its own staff, the institute plans to partner with universities and corporate research labs. The institute will be headquartered in the heart of the Kendall Square research community in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute plans to hire AI and robotics researchers, software and hardware engineers, and technicians at all levels.
Al Rizzi will serve as the institute’s chief technology officer. Rizzi has 25-plus years of experience building dynamic robots, including nearly 17 years as the chief scientist at Boston Dynamics. At Boston Dynamics, Rizzi directed research targeted at novel locomotion and mobile manipulation systems, including LittleDog, BigDog, WildCat, SandFlea, and Spot. As CTO of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, Rizzi will guide the technical and fundamental thinking that underlies the organization’s mission.
Raibert will continue to serve as the chairman of the board at Boston Dynamics, which he founded in 1992. Robert Playter was named CEO of Boston Dynamics in late 2019 in conjunction with the company’s increased focus on building commercially viable robots.
Boston Dynamics, an MIT spin-off, is best known for its innovative robots, including BigDog, Atlas, Stretch, and Spot. Spot and Stretch are available for commercial purchase, while BigDog has been retired and Atlas continues to be used internally at Boston Dynamics for R&D purposes.
Hyundai acquired Boston Dynamics in June 2021, purchasing an 80% stake in the company from Softbank for about $880 million. Hyundai became the third owner of Boston Dynamics in seven years. It was acquired by Google in 2013 and sold to Softbank Group in 2017. It has mainly operated as an R&D organization since it was founded, but a new emphasis on commercialization was evident after it was acquired by Softbank.