Inside Logistics

Boston Dynamics seeking pilot testers for new warehouse robot

Looking for users with truck unloading needs


March 29, 2021
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Boston Dynamics has entered the warehouse automation market with Stretch, its latest cobot, and it is looking for companies to try it in real-world scenarios.

Stretch working to unload a container. (Screen grab from Boston Dynamics YouTube video)

Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ first commercial robot specifically designed for warehouse facilities and distribution centres.

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.

The company has released a video demonstrating Stretch’s capabilities in the warehouse. It can pick up boxes vertically por pull them laterally off a pick face. The video also shows the robot towing a conveyor into a container and unloading non-palletized cartons – essentially replacing a human hand balming boxes off a truck.

The robot has a small, omni-directional mobile base that allows it to navigate loading docks, maneuver in tight spaces and adapt to changing facility layouts. It is equipped with a custom-designed lightweight arm and a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and controls that can handle a large variety of boxed and shrink wrapped cases.

Boston Dynamics made headlines in January 2021 with its dancing robot video, demonstrating their amazing mobility, and the company’s engineering skills.

Stretch also uses computer vision that enables it to identify boxes easily and without extensive training for each customer. Its vision system works in tandem with pick and place activity, enabling high pick rates.

“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.”

Boston Dynamics is currently seeking customers to pilot test deployment of Stretch with truck unloading tasks ahead of its commercial deployment in 2022. Interested parties can apply to join the Stretch Early Adopter Program by visiting: https://www.bostondynamics.com/stretch.

The company makes three mobile robots – Spot, Stretch and Atlas – as well as Pick, a machine learning vision solution for warehouse automation.

Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics spun out of the MIT Leg Lab. Late in 2020, Hyundai Motor Group moved to acquire a controlling interest in the company in a deal that values the mobile robot firm at US$1.1 billion. The deal is expected to close by June of 2021.