Boston Dynamics’ newest robot will help warehouses


Boston Dynamics continues to manufacture and deliver commercial robotics equipped with dynamic control, state-of-the-art electronics and next-generation software. Designed for easy deployment and use in existing warehouses, Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ newest mobile automated cargo handling robot.

In appearance, Stretch resembles an excavator or construction equipment with a sturdy, heavy base and an extensible robotic arm. Equipped with four small wheels for tight turning and great movement, the Stretch’s mobile base is capable of moving in any direction and is designed to allow the robot to fit wherever the pallet is. The long robotic arm provides ample reach and height with seven degrees of freedom.

At the end of the Stretch robotic arm is an intelligent gripper embedded with sensors and active controls that provide Stretch with the manipulation mechanisms to grip a wide range of different package types. High-capacity rechargeable batteries are used to keep the entire operation running throughout the day.

Kevin Blankspur, Boston Dynamics vice president of product development and chief engineer for both Handle and Stretch, said:

Stretch is built from Spot and Atlas parts, and that gave us a big head start. For example, if you look at Stretch's "vision" system, you'll see that it has 2D cameras, depth sensors, and software that allow it to detect obstacles, detect boxes, and locate them. These are all the same sensors and software we've been using on our robot legs for years. And if you look closely at the Stretc wrist joints, they are actually the same as the hips in Spot. They use the same electric motors, the same gearboxes, the same sensors, and even have the same closed-loop control connections.

While Stretch is still a prototype, the wheeled robot is a commercial version of a smaller, earlier model from Boston Dynamics called Handle. Stretch is currently unloading and building trucks and warehouses, and plans to load trucks in the future as part of Boston Dynamics’ work. While the team behind Stretch has yet to name a price, Boston Dynamics is working to make the robotic arm compatible with other warehouse systems.