From Boston Dynamics, we mostly know Atlas, the humanoid robot, and Spot, the robot that looks like a dog. But the manufacturers also offer other models, including Stretch. This large robotic arm is particularly suitable for moving large boxes to a conveyor belt and can do so at a high rate of 800 boxes per hour.
Thus, the machine is particularly suitable for repetitive tasks in warehouses. It transports boxes weighing up to 23 kg from the back of a truck to a conveyor belt. In addition, Stretch can run for 16 hours before needing to be recharged and has suction cups at the end of its arm, as well as numerous sensors.
For Kevin Blankespoor of Boston Dynamics, the goal is not to replace humans, but to make them more efficient:
“Typically you have two people unloading each truck. Where we want to go with Stretch is to have one person unload four or five trucks at the same time, using multiple Stretch as tools. “
Workers thus become supervisors. Because, of course, the robot is autonomous and can distinguish each box in a pile, but it can encounter difficulties, and it is then necessary for a human being to intervene.
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Safety is also essential because workers no longer have to carry out arduous or even dangerous tasks. In addition, Stretch meets the standards for mobile industrial robots set by the American National Standards Institute and the Robotics Industry Association.
For the moment, Stretch mainly knows how to unload boxes from a truck, but Boston Dynamics hopes that it will be able to perform the reverse operation later, which proves to be much more complex from a robotic point of view. The robot could also store boxes on shelves, or even create a set by fetching boxes located in different places in the warehouse.
The robot will begin shipping to preferred customers in 2022, with sales expansion slated for 2023.
Source : IEEE Spectrum