Meet Stretch: Boston Dynamics' new box-shifting robot

Stretch is a new warehouse robot designed to boost productivity in the logistics sector

Boston Dynamics has added to its ranks in the form of Stretch, a new box-moving robot that marks the firm's official foray into warehouse automation. 

Designed for use in warehouse facilities and distribution centres, Stretch will tackle a number of tasks where rapid box movement is required, such as truck unloading and - at a later date - order building.

Boston Dynamics hopes the new robot will prove of use to logistic companies wanting to increase their flow of goods, improve employee safety, and lower expensive fixed automation costs. Stretch can navigate loading docks, manoeuvre in tight spaces, and adapt to changing facility layouts, which the company claims will eliminate the need for costly automation infrastructure.

Stretch can handle a variety of boxed and shrink-wrapped cases and has “computer vision technology” that allows it to identify boxes easily and without extensive training for each customer. Its mobile base means it can move in any direction and navigate obstacles and ramps.

The firm says it is providing an easier path to automation by working within existing warehouse spaces and operations, without requiring additional investment in reconfiguration or new fixed infrastructure.

“Warehouses are struggling to meet rapidly increasing demand as the world relies more on just-in-time delivery of goods,” said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics.

“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.”

The company is currently looking for customers to pilot test Stretch’s deployment with truck unloading tasks and hopes to deploy it commercially in 2022.

Last June, the robotics company launched online sales for Spot, its dog-like robot, which can climb stairs and traverse rough terrain. It marked the first time businesses could purchase a Boston Dynamics robot and went on sale for $74,500.

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