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Boston Dynamics Introduces New Robot for Warehouse Automation

By CIOReview | Monday, April 19, 2021

Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ first industrial robot built exclusively for warehouses and distribution centers, which analysts estimate number more than 150,000 worldwide.

FREMONT, CA: Boston Dynamics, the global provider in mobile robotics, has unveiled Stretch, its new box-moving robot designed to support the growing demand for flexible automation solutions in the logistics industry. This is the company’s official entry into warehouse automation, a rapidly rising sector driven by increased e-commerce demand.

“Warehouses are struggling to meet rapidly increasing demand as the world relies more on just-in-time delivery of goods,” said Robert Playter, CEO, 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 were excited to see it put to work.”

Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ first industrial robot built exclusively for warehouses and distribution centers, which analysts estimate number more than 150,000 worldwide. The multi-purpose mobile robot is designed to handle a variety of tasks that involve rapid box movement, beginning with truck unloading and eventually extending to order fulfillment. Stretches technology builds on Boston Dynamics’ decades of robotics advancements to develop a scalable, easily integrated solution that can be used in any warehouse to maximize product flow, boost employee protection in physically demanding activities, and reduce costly fixed automation costs.

Stretch can traverse loading docks, move in tight spaces, and adjust to evolving facility configurations thanks to the robot’s compact, omnidirectional mobile base, which eliminates the need for expensive fixed automation infrastructure. It has a custom-designed lightweight arm and a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and controls that can accommodate a wide range of packaged and shrink-wrapped cases. Stretch also includes Boston Dynamics computer vision technology, which quickly and accurately identifies boxes for each customer without requiring extensive training. Its vision system works in tandem with the pick-and-place process, resulting in high pick rates.

Traditional warehouse automation methods necessitate either installing fixed infrastructure or the use of mobile robots that transport goods but fail to reach productivity targets, making them an unappealing investment for warehouse operators. Stretch makes it easier for logistics companies to automate their warehouses and operations by allowing them to operate within existing warehouse spaces and operations without having to invest in expensive reconfiguration or new fixed infrastructure. Boston Dynamics is looking for consumers to help them pilot test Stretch of truck unloading tasks before it goes commercial in 2022.