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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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This robot seeks to replace warehouse workers

The Boston Dynamics company usually surprise us every few months with experimental robots that stand out for their realistic movements and excellent balance.

Big tech’s obsession with destroying jobs leads to inventions like this: an experimental robot with a flexible arm to place boxes

His latest creation, Stretch, is something different. It is just as advanced as its predecessors but it is not inspired by animal or human locomotion and, most importantly, it has been designed for a very specific job: it is capable of replacing a worker in any warehouse.

Stretch has no hands or legs, but he is incredibly agile. It can move 800 boxes weighing up to 23 kilos every hour thanks to a suction cup system built into the end of its arm. A set of sensors allows you to identify different boxes no matter how they are stacked and at its base, the size of a pallet, has a battery with enough capacity for a work shift.

Most importantly, unlike other robots designed to operate in warehouses, Stretch does not need an adapted environment to perform its function. There is no need to install rails, or mark predetermined routes on the ground. It moves and performs its work in the same way that a human worker would, evaluating each movement.

It is not the first Boston Dynamic robot designed for warehouses. The company already marketed a mechanical arm, Pick, which uses a similar suction cup mechanism to move boxes. Unlike Stretch, however, Pick has to be installed in a specific location on the warehouse floor.

Stretch, on the other hand, can move and install a mobile conveyor belt and unload an entire truck without supervision, or organize the boxes already unloaded on different racks according to the needs of the company.

“These types of robots improve working conditions for employees. Stretch combines Boston Dynamics advancements in mobility, perception and manipulation to tackle the most injury-prone tasks,” the company explains.

Stretch is not yet commercially available, but Boston Dynamics is looking for partners to pilot for a rollout in 2022.

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