On Monday, Boston Dynamics revealed its new robot, Stretch, which unlike its sibling’s Spot and Atlas is designed specifically for warehouse automation, and for moving boxes at speed. For this new robot company has moved to a far more practical design than the human or animal body inspired design, seen in its other bots Spot (last seen at SpaceX’s Texas Facility) and Atlas,
Boston Dynamics has made Stretch to deal with the challenges of warehouse jobs. The unit can accommodate over 800 boxes every hour with a long automatic arm and a “smart gripper” with integrated sensors. The compact, omnidirectional mobile robot base helps Stretch to navigate loading docks and move in tight spaces while removing the need for expensive, fixed automation, and adapting to the evolving configuration of the system.
Its lightweight arm has 7 degrees of freedom and can safely grab and move boxes at higher speeds. Now its base is sized like a pallet and can run on batteries till a full shift, the company says. Alternatively, Stretch can be plugged in, and run continuously.
Stretch has a “perceptibility mast” with computer vision technologies from Boston Dynamics to better distinguish boxes with little preparation. The business added that its new robot would not only increase the efficiencies of warehousing operations but also make warehousing operations safer for staff. The group originally developed a prototype called Handle for the same purpose but that didn’t work quickly enough in comparison to the new model which can now safely grab and move boxes at higher speeds, thanks to a newly designed, lightweight arm.
Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics, said during a release that “Warehouses have been struggling to deal with increasingly growing demand because the world depends more on fair-term supply of products. Mobile robots allow portable material mobility and improve employee job conditions.”
“Stretch incorporates Boston Dynamics’ advances in agility, vision, and manipulation to handle the most difficult, injury-prone case-handling challenges, and we’re eager to see it put to work,” Playter added.
Boston Dynamics enjoys having fun with its robot videos, and considering Stretch’s rather traditional nature and intent, the team managed to provide a “spot” of humor in its most recent one. It will be piloted this year before being released to the public in 2022, according to the group. The price is yet to be revealed.