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Supply Chain News: Boston Dynamics Says Logistics Key Target for Its Robots, Product to be Available in 2022



New Versions Coming for Its Handle and Pick Robots

Sept. 29, 2020
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Boston Dynamics, briefly owned by Google, has for several years displayed an impressive array of robotic technology, with videos of its Atlas machine running, jumping, getting past physical obstacles and more.

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A video played during the interview shows Handle placing cases on a new age robotic automated guided vehicle.

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But to date, the company's robots have seemed to an extent technology in search of a problem. Now, the company says the applications are starting to come into focus, with distribution center uses high on the list.

The company's new CEO, Robert Playter, participated in a long interview on the virtual main stage of the recent Disrupt 2020 conference, as reported by the TechCrunch.com web site.

It turns out Boston Dynamics has sold 260 of its Spot robot at about $75,000 apiece. Spot is a quadruped that sort of resembles a large dog or other animal.

"We weren't sure exactly what the target verticals would be," for Spot, Plaxter told the audience. Early customers are now building their own add-ons and industry-specific tools for the company's robotic platform.

The Covid pandemic is increasing demand for Spot, the company says, to reduce the human headcount at facilities and for applications such as automatic disinfection using Spot to carry an aerosol sprayer through a facility.

TechCrunch says Boston Dynamics is ready to enter the logistics market with a very different robot — or rather robots — meant to automate pallet building and de-palletization and related tasks.

"We have big plans in logistics," Playter told the conference audience. "We're going to have some exciting new logistics products coming out in the next two years. We have customers now doing proof of concept tests. We'll announce something in 2021, exactly what we're doing, and we'll have product available in 2022."

The company already offers a robot named Pick, a more traditional, stationary case-picking system, and is developing a new version of Handle, a mobile robot that can grab boxes while taking up comparatively little space.

(See More Below)




A video played during the interview shows Handle placing cases on a new age robotic automated guided vehicle (see screen capture below), which rotates its base 180 degrees at one point to face Handle with the next spots to place the cartons on, then later heads off to shipping or some other area in the DC when the robotic palletizing work is complete.



"We'll be offering software that lets robots [from different manufacturers] work together," Player said. "We don't have to create them all. But ultimately it will take teams of robots to do some of these tasks, and we anticipate being able to work with a heterogeneous fleet."

Boston Dynamics is now owned by Japan's Softbank.

What do you think of the Boston Dynamic logistics robots? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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