29th March 2021
Boston Dynamics warehouse robot to debut in 2022
Boston Dynamics has revealed its latest creation – a new robot called 'Stretch' that will automate warehouse operations.
Boston Dynamics – famous for robots like Atlas, BigDog, Handle, and Spot – has now revealed Stretch, its new box-moving robot designed to support the growing demand for flexible automation solutions in the logistics industry. This debut marks the company's official entrance into warehouse automation, a fast-growing market fuelled by increased demand in e-commerce.
Stretch is Boston Dynamics' first commercial robot specifically designed for warehouse facilities and distribution centres, of which there are more than 150,000 around the world. The multi-purpose, mobile robot is designed to tackle a number of tasks where rapid box moving is required, first starting with truck unloading and later expanding into order building. Stretch's technology builds upon Boston Dynamics' decades of advancements in robotics to create a flexible, easily-integrated solution that can work in any warehouse to increase the flow of goods, improve employee safety in physically difficult tasks and lower expensive automation costs.
The robot's small, omni-directional base allows it to navigate loading docks, manoeuvre in tight spaces and adapt to changing facility layouts, eliminating the need for costly, fixed automation infrastructure. It comes equipped with a custom-designed lightweight arm and a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and controls that can handle a wide variety of boxed and shrink-wrapped cases. Stretch also includes Boston Dynamics' computer vision technology that enables it to identify boxes easily and without extensive training for each customer. This vision system works in tandem with pick and place activity, enabling high pick rates.
Traditional warehouse automation approaches require either installation of fixed infrastructure, or mobile robots that convey goods but struggle to meet productivity requirements to be an attractive investment for warehouse operators. Stretch offers logistics providers an easier path to automation by working within existing warehouse spaces and operations, without requiring costly reconfiguration or investments in new fixed infrastructure.
"Warehouses are struggling to meet rapidly increasing demand as the world relies more on just-in-time delivery of goods," said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics. "Mobile robots enable the flexible movement of materials and improve working conditions for employees. Stretch combines Boston Dynamics' advancements in mobility, perception and manipulation to tackle the most challenging, injury-prone case-handling tasks, and we're excited to see it put to work."
The company is now seeking customers to pilot test deployment of Stretch with truck unloading tasks ahead of its commercial deployment in 2022.
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