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Supply Chain News: Does Boston Dynamic Finally have a Logistics Winner in New Stretch Robot?


Smarter Robot Arm can move 800 Cartons per Hour, Company Says

March 30, 2021
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Robots company Boston Dynamics has built some very cool machines, such as its dog-like Spot and human-like Atlas robots, each of which can perform some impressive gymnastics. But the company at times has been accused of having technology in search of a problem.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


Stretch has a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and computer vision systems to identify to handle a large variety of carton sizes.

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It developed some other machines targeted for unclear logistics applications, which never made it to market.

That may all change now with "Stretch," and its purpose-based design with a simple mission: automate the movement of cartons.

The machine will "support the growing demand for flexible automation solutions in the logistics industry," Boston Dynamics said in a press statement.

The company says the unveiling of Stretch marks the company's official entrance into warehouse automation.

The first targeted application is automated unloading of floor loaded cartons in trailers (see photo below). The company says truck unloading is considered one of the worst jobs in a distribution center.

Mixed SKU pallet building for customer orders is likely the next use case on the company's maket plan for Stretch.

Of course, there many palletizing and de-palletizing robots on the market already – what if anything differentiates Stretch?

Boston Dynamics says one key is mobility. The robot sits on mobile platform, a relatively small omni-directional base that allows it to move around tight spaces and easily adapt to new warehouse layouts. A vision camera allow Stretch to navigate around a distribution center. The small footprint allows Stretch to fit anywhere a pallet does, the company says.

In addition, Stretch is said to feature high-capacity batteries that can power Stretch through a full shift, with the option to plug into power for continuous operation.


Stretch can Automate Trailer Unloading, Boston Dynamics Says


(See More Below)



Then there is the machine's ability to select cartons. Stretch has a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and computer vision systems to identify to handle a large variety of carton sizes. The "7 degrees-of-freedom" arm grants long reach and large workspace, allowing the robot to reach cases throughout a truck or pallet.

Then there is the speed of Stretch.

"We're looking at picking up boxes around 50 pounds, and our maximum rate of picking up and moving boxes can reach up to 800 cases per hour. So, it's a fast moving, highly versatile robot," Michael Perry, vice president of business development for Boston Dynamics, told Reuters in an interview.

Though Boston Dynamics has not released any pricing for Stretch, the company said the system can be installed "without requiring costly reconfiguration or investments in new fixed infrastructure."

What do you think of Stretch? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.







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