Tech

Boston Dynamics' Stretch bot can lift heavy boxes with its suckers

Stretch can unload cargo, build pallets, stack boxes, and according to Boston Dynamics, it can do it all of those things just as fast as a human.

Boston Dynamics is back with a new robot aimed at automating warehouse workers’ most physically strenuous tasks.

📷: Boston Dynamics

Meet Stretch

Stretch is designed as a mobile robotic arm geared specifically toward moving and stacking the never-ending stream of boxes that flood into the world’s burgeoning number of distribution warehouses. The bot, which sits on top of a wheeled omnidirectional base, uses an array of suction pads at the end of its robot arm to pick up and place boxes from say, the back of a truck, onto a conveyor belt.

📷: Boston Dynamics

Part of what makes Stretch special is the fact that it’s mobile, which enables it to adapt to various warehouse layouts as needed. This stands in contrast to traditional warehouse automation, which is typically built at a fixed location, and often bolted to the floor.

📷: Boston Dynamics

50 lbs

Stretch is capable of lifting boxes that weigh up to 23 kilograms.

📷: Boston Dynamics

800

Boston Dynamics says Stretch is capable of handling about 800 boxes per hour.

📷: Boston Dynamics

To aid Stretch in its quest to stack and move boxes, the bot uses Boston Dynamics’ computer vision software, which can accurately identify boxes and adjust its grip and locomotion accordingly.

📷: Boston Dynamics

Stretch isn’t Boston Dynamics’ first foray into the world of warehouse automation. The company has also released bots like Pick, which has many of the same skills as Stretch, but packed into a stationary rig as opposed to Stretch’s wheeled base. There’s also Handle, which is a massive crane-like robot on two wheels, designed to carry boxes.

📷: Boston Dynamics

$?

Price is still a big question mark.

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Just how much impact Boston Dynamics’ Stretch will have on factory automation remains to be seen. For one, there’s no actual figure on how much Stretch will cost yet, making it difficult to tell whether its advantages will make it competitive with current solutions.

📷: Boston Dynamics

Stretch is also still firmly in its test phase. Boston Dynamics said it’s currently looking for customers to use the robot as part of a pilot phase and that its commercial deployment is still at least a year out.

📷: Boston Dynamics

2022

Stretch will be released sometime next year.

📷: Boston Dynamics

Looks like Boston Dynamics’ other robot creations will have to wait patiently for a new member of the dance troupe.

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