Toyota Motor Corp. is close to acquiring two robotics divisions from Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, according to a news story.
Toyota is on track to buy Boston Dynamics, a U.S.-based firm, and Schaft, founded by a University of Tokyo graduate, as reported by Japan’s Nikkei business daily. Both of these firms are divisions of Alphabet Inc. Toyota declined to comment directly on having talks with Alphabet.
The purchases are reported as going through Toyota’s new artificial intelligence and robotics unit, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Toyota invested $1 billion to start TRI last year. It’s been part of Toyota’s long-term strategy to bring autonomous vehicles to roads and helper robots to workplaces and homes, several of which have been displayed at auto shows in Tokyo and overseas.
“Toyota and Toyota Research Institute regularly discuss possible collaborations with outside partners to help create ever-better cars and to advance our r&d efforts,” Toyota said in a statement. “We do not have any further details to disclose about any of these discussions at this time.”
Automakers are looking at alliances with tech and mobility companies to be ready for the fast-changing automotive marketplace. Last week, Tesla announced it will be partnering with ridesharing giant Uber to explore new mobility services. That wasn’t long after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced its alliance with Google to test out autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
Toyota has been working on robotics for several years. Toyota forecasts that its future will be expanding beyond automotive to include artificial intelligence systems used in other applications such as household robots.