The new robot, called Stretch, has been designed with one thing in mind: Warehouse work. Using a long automated arm and a “smart gripper” featuring embedded sensors, the machine is able to work at great speed, handling around 800 boxes an hour.
The robot’s small, omnidirectional mobile base allows Stretch to navigate loading docks, maneuver in tight spaces, and adapt to changing facility layouts, eliminating the need for costly fixed automation infrastructure, the company said.
Stretch also features a “perception mast” that incorporates Boston Dynamics’ computer vision technology to help it identify boxes with minimal training.
The company added that its latest robot will not only make warehouse operations more efficient, but also safer for workers, suggesting that it’s designed to work alongside humans rather than replace them.
“Warehouses are struggling to meet rapidly increasing demand as the world relies more on just-in-time delivery of goods,” Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics, said in a release. “Mobile robots enable the flexible movement of materials and improve working conditions for employees.”
Playter added: “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.”
Boston Dynamics likes to have fun with its robot videos, and despite Stretch’s somewhat conventional design and purpose, the team still managed to include a “spot” of humor in its latest one (top) introducing its new machine.
The company is planning pilot deployments of Stretch this year before launching it on the market in 2022. Pricing is yet to be announced.
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