fb-pixel Skip to main content

Boston Dynamics backing $400 million AI and robotics research center in Kendall Square

Company founder Marc Raibert will lead the effort.

"Spot," Boston Dynamics' robotic dog, pours a beer at the Sam Adams Boston Taproom in downtown Boston earlier this year.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Robotics maker Boston Dynamics and its owner, Hyundai Motor Group, on Friday announced they were investing $400 million to create a research center in Cambridge.

The new center, called the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, will focus on artificial intelligence and robotics and will be led by Boston Dynamics founder and former MIT professor Marc Raibert.

“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,” Raibert said in a statement.

The center will add to the area’s large and growing cluster of robotics companies, academic robotics programs, and robotics investors. Last week, Amazon announced it was buying Bedford robotics pioneer iRobot for $1.7 billion.

Advertisement



Waltham-based Boston Dynamics is best known for its dog-like robot Spot and has also expanded into devices for working in warehouses with a new robot called Stretch. Raibert founded the company in 1992 and served as chief executive until 2019, when he shifted to the role of chair of the board of directors.

Google bought the company in 2013 and sold it to SoftBank Group in 2017. Last year, Hyundai took control from SoftBank in a deal that valued Boston Dynamics at $1.1 billion.

The new AI institute will be housed in Kendall Square in the same 19-story building that serves as the headquarters of Akamai Technologies. Since the pandemic and the rise of remote working, Akamai decided to sublease a portion of its space.

The new institute plans to hire specialists in a variety of robotics and AI areas, including cognitive AI, athletic AI, organic hardware design, and ethics and policy.

The initial staff also includes Al Rizzi, formerly chief scientist at Boston Dynamics and a professor at Carnegie Mellon, as chief technology officer. Renee Kennedy, who had been head of people at Optimus Ride, will serve as vice president of people operations.

Advertisement




Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ampressman.