Building the Future of Warehouse Automation: Companies Partner on Mobile Robot Innovations

March 10, 2020 by Alessandro Mascellino

Robotics specialist companies Boston Dynamics and OTTO Motors have partnered on a new project focusing on warehouse automation.

The companies unveiled the collaborative project through a video showing Handle, Boston Dynamics’ logistics robot, picking up boxes and building pallets on top of OTTO autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

According to Boston Dynamics and OTTO Motors, the new collaboration will utilize the companies’ joint technologies to ultimately provide the industry with more flexible warehouse automation solutions.

Mobile robots have become increasingly popular in the last several years. Companies such as Omron are showcasing these robots as they continue to advance the automation industry. 


Boston Dynamics Integrating Box Detection Software

The news of the new partnership comes at a time of expansion for Boston Dynamics.

The Massachusetts-based company, who specializes in mobile manipulation robots, announced last year it was stepping up its efforts to develop flexible, highly mobile automation technology using its Handle Robot and Pick computer vision system.

During the last twelve months, Boston Dynamics has fully integrated Pick’s box detection software into its Handle Robot.

The company also started selling a version of the Pick software available for integration in robotic work cells deployed in industrial sites.


OTTO Motors mobile robot

The autonomous mobile robot OTTO 1500. Image used courtesy of OTTO Motors.


OTTO Motors is a specialist in the development of AMRs. The company was created in 2016 as a spin-off of Clearpath Robotics, and counts customers such as General Electric, John Deere and Toyota.

OTTO Motors’ best-known AMR is the OTTO 1500, which with a maximum payload of 1500 kg has proven able to complete mission-critical deliveries in a variety of industrial environments.


Logistics and Autonomous Mobile Robots Working Together

With Boston Dynamics’ Handle Robot completing a proof of concept trials with customers in their warehouses last year, the company is now able to collaborate with OTTO Motors to further automate the logistics space.

In particular, Boston Dynamics and OTTO Motors have built a heterogeneous fleet of robots including machines from both companies building distribution center orders to provide a more flexible warehouse automation solution.


the handle robot

The Handle Robot. Image used courtesy of Boston Dynamics.


The project ultimately aims to demonstrate the benefits of a collaboration between robotics companies in the industrial environment.

“It’s exciting to engage with other cutting-edge robotics companies like Boston Dynamics,” said Ryan Gariepy, CTO, and co-founder of OTTO Motors. 


Exploring Flexible Automation Applications 

Broadly speaking, flexible automation refers to robots’ ability to be easily and quickly re-tasked to change product design in both low and high mix manufacturing.

Flexible automation represents the evolution of programmable automation. It solves the main problem of programmable automation, which is the time required to reprogram and change over the production equipment for each batch of new products. This, in turn, translates to lost production time.

On the other hand, flexible automation cells can improve efficiency by evolving with a company’s process and demand, thus reducing and fixing production costs, improving quality, and eliminating health and safety issues.


OTTO Motors software

OTTO Motors Software displaying the movement of autonomous robots. Image used courtesy of OTTO Motors.


With the constant growth of this industry comes the development of new automation software designed to optimize the industrial production process.

Looking at this flourishing market, the new partnership between Boston Dynamics and OTTO certainly seems promising.

The companies will be demoing their products at MODEX, a trade show for supply chain, manufacturing, and distribution automation, happening this week in Atlanta, Georgia.


Interested in seeing Boston Dynamics' Pick and Handle in action? They will be at booth #7494. Want to pay a visit to OTTO? They will be at booth #10019.