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Boston Dynamics unveils Stretch the warehouse robot

by Ben Wodecki
Article ImageThe claw chooses who will go and who will stay

Famed robotics specialist Boston Dynamics has unveiled Stretch — its first product for the rapidly growing warehouse automation market.

The multi-purpose autonomous hardware platform was designed to tackle tasks where rapid box movement is required, including truck loading and unloading, and order building.

Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter said, “Warehouses are struggling to meet rapidly increasing demand as the world relies more on just-in-time delivery of goods.

“Mobile robots enable the flexible movement of materials and improve working conditions for employees.”

Inevitable commercialization

Announcing the robot, Boston Dynamics – famous for a series of iconic designs including Spot, the robot dog – claimed Stretch would increase the flow of goods in warehouses, improve employee safety when carrying out physically difficult tasks, and lower expensive fixed automation costs.

The robot boasts an omni-directional mobile base which allows it to navigate loading docks. It is equipped with a custom-designed arm, and a smart-gripper that can handle a variety of boxed and shrink-wrapped cases.

Boston Dynamic said its computer vision technologies allow Stretch to identify boxes easily, with limited training required.

The Massachusetts-based company is currently seeking customers for pilot deployments in truck unloading tasks, ahead of general availability in 2022.

Boston Dynamics recently saw Hyundai Motor Group secure a controlling stake in the company, acquired from SoftBank in a deal that valued the venture at $1.1 billion.

However, the company may soon be unable to sell its robots to New York police. The City Council is currently considering legislation aimed at banning the NYPD from using armed robots, following a potential hostage situation that saw the force deploy a robotic dog made by Boston Dynamics.

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