Germany-based software company United Robotics Group (URG) will be acquiring SoftBank Group’s European robotics division. The division is known for its humanoid robot assistant Pepper. The financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. However, it is known that SoftBank will have a minority stake in URG. It appears that both the entities will corporate in marketing the robots from now on.
SoftBank will acquire a minority stake in URG and the two companies will continue to cooperate in marketing robots, the statement said without providing further financial terms of the deal. The French business will revert to its former name Aldebaran. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son acquired the business in 2012 in a short-circuited attempt to become a major player in the robotics industry.
SoftBank was in talks to sell the business to URG after stopping production of Pepper and slashing jobs at its robotics business globally. The deal, which follows the appointment of URG as the master distributor for Pepper in Europe in October last year, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.
Thomas Hahn, founder, and CEO of URG said the acquisition was an important step “on the way to further internationalizing our company. The future Aldebaran, with their strong reputation in the market, will help us to further expand our great potential in combining interaction robotics with our knowledge in collaborative industrial robotics.”
Humanoid Robot Pepper
SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son bought Aldebaran in 2012 as he attempted to make the Japanese company into a major robotics player. One of the unit’s biggest successes during SoftBank’s ownership was the creation of Pepper and the education-focused Nao robots. However, rumors of a sale of the unit heightened after Media reported in 2021 SoftBank had ceased production of Pepper due to low demand. As part of its pullback, the company also slashed jobs in its robotics business globally.
“We are pleased to welcome SBRE with more than 180 exceptionally motivated robotics specialists,” said Thomas Hähn, founder and CEO of United Robotics Group. “This is an important step for us on the way to further internationalizing our company. The future Aldebaran with their strong reputation in the market will help us to further expand our great potential in combining interaction robotics with our knowledge in collaborative industrial robotics.”
Furthermore, Fumihide Tomizawa, President & CEO, SoftBank Robotics Group, said: “We are strengthening our strategic partnerships with various robotics leader companies around the world. We are very pleased to form a strong partnership with a successful company, URG. We will leverage this great relationship to develop and market Pepper and a variety of other robots.”