Google continues robot M&A spree by acquiring Boston Dynamics

Google (GOOG) has acquired Boston Dynamics, a developer of advanced robots and related software for the U.S. military. The NYT observes Boston, whose robots rely on proprietary algorithms and sensor-based controls to handle movement, has "gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and ... run faster than the fastest humans."

Boston's products include Atlas, a humanoid robot able to handle difficult terrain; Cheetah, declared by the company to be "the fastest legged robot in the world (top speed above 29 mph); and BigDog, a giant rough-terrain robot that can climb 35-degree slopes and has starred in a YouTube video that has received 15M+ views.

Boston is Google's eighth 2013 robotics acquisition. The NYT recently reported a Google unit headed by ex-Android chief Andy Rubin is looking to create "a new generation of robots," and that the Web giant is eying manufacturing and retail robotics applications. Amazon is clearly showing an interest in the latter.

Google's latest acquisition could end up having implications for iRobot (IRBT), which sold $33.7M worth of defense/security robots over the first nine months of 2013 (-39% Y/Y).

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Comments (9)
  • heyo
    , contributor
    Comments (65) | Send Message
    what is next, world domination?
    14 Dec 2013, 08:04 PM Reply Like
  • 96815234
    , contributor
    Comments (2401) | Send Message
    Google MUST be looking at Swisslog ("SLHGF") which is similar to Kiva Systems(which was bought by Amazon):


    They had better move fast, as Grenzebach already owns 25% and will probably buy rest soon:
    14 Dec 2013, 11:12 PM Reply Like
  • techwonk
    , contributor
    Comments (288) | Send Message
    heyo: Funny. ;)


    This is not inconsistent with the goals of either company.


    The Google self-driving car is essentially a big land drone, and AMZN is exploring robotic package delivery.


    I'm a little bemused by the acquistion choice given the present tension between Google and the U.S. security agencies.


    There are however plenty of civilian uses for rough terrain robots - search and rescue for stranded hikers, for instance - and Google's work with cognitive emulation should give it an advantage.
    15 Dec 2013, 09:06 PM Reply Like
  • InvestorWisdom
    , contributor
    Comments (253) | Send Message
    ADEP is another possible robotics buyout target. Sales are picking up for multiple robotic lines. The new CEO has been improving the numbers across the board.


    Adept robotics is a well known name and their new Lynx based autonomous mobile solutions are the future. Heres some news on their recent "fleet" order


    Adept Technology Receives Order for Mobile Robots from Pharmacy Automation System Provider
    Adept Technology, Inc. December 3, 2013 4:01 PM


    PLEASANTON, Calif., Dec. 3, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Adept Technology, Inc. (ADEP), a leading provider of intelligent robots, autonomous mobile solutions and services, today announced that Cornerstone Automation Systems, LLC, a producer of innovative material handling, packaging and manufacturing automation, has placed an order for a fleet of Adept "Lynx" mobile robots. CASI will integrate the robots into state-of-the-art pharmacy automation systems slated to deploy at three customer facilities in the United States over the coming year. CASI has also been named Adept's first preferred partner for mobile robots.


    CASI's pharmacy automation systems are a next-generation solution for automated dispensing at centralized pharmacies. The turnkey systems use Adept's Lynx mobile robot platform to transport standard and controlled substances within a pharmacy facility with a new level of efficiency, security and traceability.


    "The Adept Lynx robot platform, combined with our own integrated handling mechanisms and controls, provides the security and traceability not achievable by any other means," said Michael Doke, CASI executive vice president. "Lynx stood out to us for many reasons—its open interface has made it extremely easy to integrate into our 'SolidSuite Rx' software for inventory control. Lynx is fully autonomous and does not require additional infrastructure to operate so it is easy to deploy. And Adept's 'Enterprise Manager' software allows complete management of an entire Lynx fleet, ensuring optimal efficiency."


    Adept President and CEO Rob Cain said, "We are pleased to welcome CASI as a preferred partner for mobile robots. Our companies have a very successful history together in the implementation of industrial robots at some strategic customers. We are excited to be a part of the unique solution CASI is providing for pharmacy automation and look forward to establishing our foothold in this promising market."


    Adept's Lynx is a self-navigating Autonomous Indoor Vehicle ( for moving material in dynamic environments that may include confined passageways, people and other obstacles. Simple to deploy, Lynx systems require no facility modifications and can be programmed and functional within a day. These efficient, reliable systems are designed to be compatible with a variety applications and payloads.


    Adept preferred partners are selected for their advanced technical capabilities and knowledge base in their respective markets. Preferred partners define, configure, and deliver fully integrated solutions using Adept robots, software, and grippers to increase speed and efficiency on production and material handling lines.


    About Cornerstone Automation Systems, LLC


    Cornerstone Automation Systems is a manufacturer that designs and implements state-of-the-art intelligent automation for industries such as distribution and pharmacy fulfillment. The company boasts decades of experience in developing advanced automation and has the in-house design and field engineering staff to deliver a world-class automated system at a competitive price using modular customizable components. CASI's next-generation pharmacy solutions are designed to boost fulfillment efficiency, security and material traceability, ultimately lowering customers' operating costs and enhancing patient safety. For more information, visit


    About Adept Technology, Inc.


    Adept is a global, leading provider of intelligent robots and autonomous mobile solutions and services that enable customers to achieve precision, speed, quality and productivity in their assembly, handling, packaging, testing, and logistical processes. With a comprehensive portfolio of high-performance motion controllers, application development software, vision-guidance technology and high-reliability robot mechanisms with autonomous capabilities, Adept provides specialized, cost-effective robotics systems and services to high-growth markets including medical, electronics, food and semiconductor; as well as to traditional industrial markets including machine tool automation and automotive components. More information is available at


    Forward-Looking Statements


    This press release contains forward-looking statements including, without limitation, statements about our expectations for revenues and cash flow, market share and product development opportunities in our core markets and potential new markets. Such statements are based on current expectations and projections about the Company's business. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve numerous risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. The Company's actual results could differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements for a variety of reasons. For a discussion of these risk factors relating to Adept's business, see Adept's SEC filings, including the Company's annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, which includes the discussion in sections entitled Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Risk Factors.
    14 Dec 2013, 10:25 PM Reply Like
  • eager1
    , contributor
    Comments (178) | Send Message
    Swisslog is spread out into a bunch of stuff like medial systems. Part of its work is some robots for factory work. Zero volume. Maybe 500 shares on the German exchange.
    ADEP is more serious - supplying a lot of the sensors used in robots and a good target for Google.
    15 Dec 2013, 01:55 AM Reply Like
  • 96815234
    , contributor
    Comments (2401) | Send Message
    Eager1, sounds like you are pretty ignorant. FACTS: Swisslog is 15x larger in revenues than ADEP, is profitable, and does large projects for blue-chip customers worldwide. Swisslog trades much higher volume than ADEP on the SWISS stock exchange. If you are smart enough to figure out the right $ price using symbol I have provided, someone will do the arb from SWISS for you for a few pennies. And if you havent noticed, there are massive labor shortages in healthcare, and at any rate, healthcare robotics is a minority of Swisslog's business.


    My guess is Jeff Bezos knows more about robotics/ automation businesses than you do, and there are many good reasons why he bought KIVA. Since I cant buy KIVA, I am happy to own Swisslog. The 25% Grenzenbach stake is also a nice catalyst in the making for Swisslog...


    I might be a buyer of micro-cap, money-losing ADEP around $5, or I might even short it at current levels...
    15 Dec 2013, 02:57 AM Reply Like
  • eager1
    , contributor
    Comments (178) | Send Message
    Anybody have a good short list of pure robot plays?
    These are the only two I can think of.
    15 Dec 2013, 01:57 AM Reply Like
  • eager1
    , contributor
    Comments (178) | Send Message
    Not sure I understand. "Swisslog trades much higher volume than ADEP on the SWISS stock exchange"


    SLOG.SW (swiss exchange) = 155K shares traded
    WSZ.BE (berlin) = no shares
    WSZ.F (Frankfurt) = 3,000
    WSZ.SG (stuttgart) = 500


    ADEP traded 91,753 shares so they both have extremely low volume and it is misleading to say "much higher volume" . ADEP is up 300% YTD and Swisslog is almost zero%. People like ADEP because it is showing growth and that is why they have had a big spike in the last 6 months.
    ADEP has 139 employees and Swisslog has 2,118. Swisslog description: "The company operates through two segments, Healthcare Solutions and Warehouse & Distribution Solutions..... It also provides consulting services, software solutions, logistic equipment, general contracting, implementation, and lifetime support services. This segment primarily serves wholesale and retail trade, food, beverage, and consumer goods sectors, as well as the pharmaceutical industries."


    This does not sound like a pure play on robotics business to me. That is what I am looking for.
    15 Dec 2013, 04:18 PM Reply Like
  • Moon Kil Woong
    , contributor
    Comments (13541) | Send Message
    Google does wonderful at wasting money. Fortunate for them, they are currently making plenty to waste. That may end when Yahoo tops them as their eyes stray very far from the ball.


    They really should spend more time on their core, improving Google Docs, focusing on better search, and developing software apps. Search has not improved significantly in the last few years and Google's search is getting terrible as it stuffs it full of garbage ads like its predecessors they walloped for doing the exact same thing.
    16 Dec 2013, 02:53 AM Reply Like
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