Alibaba Group announced that the company and Taiwan-based Foxconn have made strategic investments of JPY14.5 billion, which is about CNY732 million, into SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corporation.
Under the agreement signed by the three parties, Alibaba and Foxconn will hold a 20% stake in SBRH, respectively; while SoftBank will own the remaining 60%.
Alibaba, Foxconn and SoftBank will work together to promote the global development and expansion of robot industry. So far, SBRH has developed a robot product with emotions named Pepper.
At the beginning of 2012, SoftBank acquired a French robot company Aldebaran and founded SBRH based on the acquisition. In 2014, the Japanese group continued its acquisition and investment in robot-related products, covering expression cloud services and expression sensing technology.
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, said that in the future, the robot industry is expected to become the key sector to promote technical breakthroughs in medical, public service, research, and smart home.
Zhang Jianfeng, Alibaba Group's president for its Chinese retail business group, said that by investing in SBRH, the company hopes to establish its robot industrial channel and further explore the smart device sector.
Alibaba's interest in the robotics appears focused on enhancing its smart platform and establish research cooperation and communications mechanism with SBRH in various sectors, including machine vision, voice analysis, family smart control systems, and smart network security. Alibaba is betting its smart home products will benefit from more robotics input.