It can’t do back flips like Atlas the humanoid robot, nor can it dance or open doors for its friends, like Spot the robotic dog can. Instead, Boston Dynamics’ new robot, named Stretch, is going straight to work in a warehouse. Rolling around on a wheeled base, it’s basically a large robotic arm that grabs boxes using vacuum power, and it’s designed for tasks like unloading trucks or stacking pallets.
If Spot and Atlas are the show-offs in the family, Stretch is the straight-up workhorse. But while these machines all look and move in wildly different ways, they actually share a lot of DNA. Stretch may seem familiar to you, because it’s a sort of descendant of another machine that debuted a few years back: Handle. That robot had a similar suction arm, but it balanced on two wheels, like a Segway scooter. Handle would grab a box, scoot backward, turn 90 degrees, and roll away to stack the box somewhere else.
It looked neat on video, but in practice the robot needed a lot of room to operate. It could manage unloading boxes from a truck, sure. “But it took a long time,” says Kevin Blankespoor, lead of warehouse robotics at Boston Dynamics. “The truck is a pretty confined space. And so for Handle, every time it grabbed the box, it would need to roll back into some space where it could rotate freely without collisions.”
Read entire article at Wired: https://www.wired.com/story/boston-dynamics-new-robot-has-a-warehouse-job/