The new robot from Boston Dynamics does not dance. It has a warehouse job

It can’t Flips back Humanoid robots like Atlas, Or it can’t dance or open doors for his friends, Like a robotic dog To be able to. Instead, a new Boston Dynamics robot called Stretch is going to work directly in the warehouse. Rotating around the wheeled base, it is basically a large robotic arm that grabs the boxes using vacuum power and is designed for tasks like unloading trucks or stacking pallets.

If Spot and Atlas are family show-offs, Stretch is a straight-up workhorse. But these machines all look wildly different and continue to do so, they actually share a lot of DNA. The expansion may seem familiar to you, as it is a descendant of another type of machine that debuted a few years ago: Handle. It had a suction arm like this robot but it is balanced on two wheels like a Segway scooter. The handle will grab a box, scoot backwards, rotate 90 degrees, and move the box away to stack it somewhere else.

It looked neat in the video, but the robot needed one in practice Lots Room for management. It can handle unloading boxes from any truck, of course. “But it took a long time,” said Kevin Blankspour, head of Boston Dynamics’ warehouse robotics. “The truck is a very limited space. And so for Handel, every time it grabbed the box, it had to go back to a place where it could rotate freely without collision. “

Video: Boston Dynamics

What can be said: If the handle was human, it would have been released. So Boston Dynamics has encouraged a new form factor in favor of stretch (sorry) that similarly slapped a four-wheeled base on a robotic vacuum arm. Each wheel can move independently, so the robot can move sideways or forward and backward, say the back of a truck.

This new base gave the stretch two strengths. One thing is for sure, the same is true of energy efficient animals that are more stable than two continuous balances on four wheels: a dog or a cat is inherently more stable than a human. (The stretch will have 8 hours of battery life, and clients will have the option to upgrade to a double battery that holds 16 hours of charge.)

Video: Boston Dynamics

This arm can lift 50 pounds but weighs a quarter of the hand of a typical industrial robot, says Blankspur. And oddly enough, it shares the most design DNA with its cousin, the robot dog spot. “If you look closely at the wrist joints for stretch, they’re like spot hips,” Blankspur says. “We use the same electric motor and gearbox and sensors on the join joints across stretches and spots, and we use the same software to control the joints.”

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