Boston Dynamics Unveiled a New Warehouse Automation RobotApril 20, 2021 by Damond Goodwin
Warehouse robot, Stretch, builds onto Boston Dynamics’ robotic portfolio with advanced dexterity and intelligence.
Boston Dynamics is a global leader in mobile robotics. They focus on making robots that are easily integrated into the workplace and can tackle tasks that are difficult to automate. The company recently added a new warehouse robot called Stretch that builds onto their portfolio of robotics with advanced dexterity and intelligence.
They hope to provide a superior product to customers who are new to automation as well as companies who have a long-standing history in automation.
Warehouse Automation Robot
Boston Dynamics’ new Stretch robot is their first robot designed to break into the ever-expanding logistics industry. Stretch is a mobile robot made with the intent of expanding automation to warehouses without the expensive upfront costs normally associated with hard industrial robotics.
Video used courtesy of Boston Dynamics
The robot is autonomous and versatile, allowing for minimal disruption in operation, even when there is a change in plant infrastructure. Stretch can bring automation to virtually any warehouse to help improve worker safety and increase rates across the board.
Stretch features a small base profile that fits within the footprint of a standard pallet, helping to reduce the impact on space sometimes caused by the addition of robotics to warehouse operations. The robot can move in any direction. It can fit into tight spaces and inside truck trailers for efficient unloading.
Its lightweight arm uses smart technology to create an efficient gripping system capable of unloading most standard boxes and shrink-wrapped products. The Stretch robotic system is useful in reducing injury to workers who would typically have to load and unload boxes in tight spaces.
Stretch performing palletizing tasks. Image used courtesy of Boston Dynamics
The Boston Dynamics vision system has been added to the Stretch to include its pick-and-place capabilities. The system works in tandem with the arm to create advanced box recognition, allowing it to work in most warehouse pick-and-place applications. With the vision system, the robot can be integrated more efficiently into workflow processes without extensive training on a customer-to-customer basis.
To keep up with demand, the Stretch robot has been equipped with high-capacity batteries. The batteries allow the robot to work longer than a standard worker’s shift. It has two possibilities for power options: running on its battery or plugging directly into shore power. With the option to run on shore power, the Stretch can work longer shifts than the battery’s limit normally allows.
Boston Dynamics’ Stretch robot. Image used courtesy of Boston Dynamics
Boston Dynamics is in the process of finding pilot customers to test the new robotic system. The stretch is expected to be available for commercial deployment in 2022.
With an ever-expanding need for labor in warehouses and distribution centers, Boston Dynamics has taken on a new market with the Stretch. The company used years of experience in the robotics sector to create a robot capable of taking on the demanding warehouse environment and easy integration. Its smart gripper and vision system are capable of pick-and-placing most standard boxes and shrink-wrapped products. The option to run the robot on battery or shore power gives customers more flexibility with this mobile robot than traditional robotic systems that require significant infrastructure changes.