Stretch, a new box-moving robot introduced by Boston Dynamics, a global pioneer in mobile robotics, is designed to meet the demands for versatile automation solutions in logistics. Stretch’s debut indicates the entry of Boston Dynamics into the field of warehouse automation, a rapidly expanding market driven by increased demand in e-commerce.

Stretch is officially the first commercial robot designed by Boston Dynamics for warehouse amenities and distribution channels. According to experts, there are over 150,000 warehouses globally and will require around 28,500 additional warehouses to meet the growing demands for consumer goods due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Stretch, the multi-purpose mobile robot, is intended to handle various tasks requiring rapid box movement, commencing with truck unloading and progressing to order building. Stretch is built on the decades of advancements in robotics by Boston Dynamics. It is made to create an adaptable, effortlessly blended solution that can be used in any warehouse to boost goods flow, improve employee safety in physically tricky tasks, and reduce expensive fixed automation costs.

Michael Perry, VP of Business Development for Boston Dynamics, told Reuters,

“We heard pretty much universally across warehousing that truck unloading is one of the most physically difficult and unpleasant jobs … And that’s where Stretch comes into play.” 

Stretch’s minute, omnidirectional or all-directional mobile base enables it to operate loading docks, move in confined spaces, and adjust to the changing facility layouts, eradicating the demand for expensive fixed automation infrastructure. It has a custom-made design, a lightweight arm, and a smart-gripper with high-level sensors and controllers to handle a wide range of packed and shrink-wrapped cases. Stretch also includes Boston Dynamics’ computer visual technology, which allows it to recognize boxes rapidly and effortlessly for each customer. Its visual interface collaborates with pick and place activities to achieve high pick rates.

Conventional warehouse automation options involve installing fixed infrastructure or deploying mobile robots that transport goods but struggle to achieve productivity standards to be an attractive investment for warehouse owners. Stretch simplifies the route to automation for logistics providers by operating inside current warehouse facilities and processes, eliminating the need for costly reconfiguration or investments in new fixed equipment. Though, Boston Dynamics hasn’t unveiled pricing for Stretch so far.

Robert Playter, the CEO of Boston Dynamics, said:

“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 we’re excited to see it put to work.”

Recently Boston Dynamics was acquired by Hyundai Motor Group. The company aims to build high-tech robots that can mimic human and animal movement, skill, and agility. Curiosity and appreciation for the natural environment are central to their robotics research.

Boston Dynamics expects the commercial availability of Stretch by 2022. The launch of Stretch will be revolutionary as it will assist businesses in warehousing and delivery functions.