Robots: Warehouse machine can shift up to 800 boxes per hour
Meet Stretch: Boston Dynamics unveils new warehouse worker robot that can shift up to 800 boxes per hour
- The Massachusetts-based firm built Stretch at the request of other companies
- It has a smart gripper that can handle boxes of various shapes and up to 50 lbs
- Stretch’s small mobile base allows it to navigate existing warehouse layouts
- Boston Dynamics have yet to reveal how much each of the robots will cost
US robotics company Boston Dynamics have unveiled a new machine to work in warehouses that can shift up 800 boxes per hour.
The robot — dubbed ‘Stretch’ — is the first from the company that was developed to handle just one specific task.
The product was inspired by requests for such a design received from companies all around the world, the firm explained.
Boston Dynamics have yet to reveal how much a Stretch unit will cost.
US robotics company Boston Dynamics have unveiled a new machine to work in warehouses that can shift up 800 boxes per hour. Pictured: the ‘Stretch’ robot moves boxes
‘We heard pretty much universally across warehousing that truck unloading is one of the most physically difficult and unpleasant jobs,’ Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development, Michael Perry, told Reuters.
‘And that’s where Stretch comes into play. It’s a fast moving, highly versatile robot.’ he added.
‘We’re looking at picking up boxes around 50 pounds (23 kilograms), and our maximum rate of picking up and moving boxes can reach up to 800 cases per hour.’
Stretch is equipped with an arm that terminates in a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and computer vision cameras that can identify and handle a large variety of boxed as well as shrink-wrapped cases.
Boston Dynamics is perhaps best known for its dog-like ‘Spot’ and humanoid ‘Atlas’ robots — which have been made famous by dancing in videos on YouTube.
A controlling stake in the Massachusetts-based company was recently purchased by the Hyundai Motor Group from the SoftBank Group Corp in a deal that valued the robot maker at $1.1 billion (£0.8 billion).
According to Mr Perry, the time is ripe for the new ‘bot on the block’ to capitalise on the ever-increasing consumer demand for speedy home delivery.
Boston Dynamics is perhaps best known for its dog-like ‘Spot’ and humanoid ‘Atlas’ robots — which have been made famous by dancing in videos on YouTube
According to analysts, the warehousing sector experienced an extremely strong 2020, with growth expected to continue this year.
Online shopping amid the pandemic has driven the need for a massive expansion in order fulfilment services.
Although Boston Dynamics has yet to release any pricing for Stretch, they have said that the system can be installed ‘without requiring costly reconfiguration or investments in new fixed infrastructure.’
This, they explained, is because Stretch has a small mobile base that allows it to move around tight spaces in existing warehouse layouts.
WHAT IS BOSTON DYNAMICS’ SPOT MINI ROBO-DOG?
Boston Dynamics first showed off SpotMini, the most advanced robot dog ever created, in a video posted in November 2017.
The firm, best known for Atlas, its 5 foot 9 (1.7 metre) humanoid robot, has revealed a new ‘lightweight’ version of its robot Spot Mini.
The robotic canine was shown trotting around a yard, with the promise that more information from the notoriously secretive firm is ‘coming soon’.
‘SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home’ the firm says on its website.
It weighs 25 kg (55 lb), or 30 kg (66 lb) when you include the robotic arm.
SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing, the firm says, boasting ‘SpotMini is the quietest robot we have built.’
SpotMini was first unveiled in 2016, and a previous version of the mini version of spot with a strange extendable neck has been shown off helping around the house.
In the firm’s previous video, the robot is shown walking out of the firm’s HQ and into what appears to be a home.
There, it helps load a dishwasher and carries a can to the trash.
It also at one point encounters a dropped banana skin and falls dramatically – but uses its extendable neck to push itself back up.
‘SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built, the firm says, due to its electric motors.
‘It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs.
‘These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation.
‘SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.’
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