Boston Dynamics’ Stretch robot is gearing up to start its first real-world job in 2022
Are you a fan of Boston Dynamics? Well, you'll be excited to know that one of its lesser-known robots is getting some well-deserved attention. Stretch and its mechanical arm are being put to work, and it's all happening this year. Read on to find out who's giving it its first job!
Fewer companies these days are as tied to robotics as Boston Dynamics. It’s entirely understandable, too, since Boston Dynamics’ regularly turns heads and captures headlines with its super-cool array of impressive robots.
After all, the company’s projects (like Spot) have been featured by folks like Myth Busters’ Adam Savage and courted by the US military. Well, now one of the company’s less exciting bots is getting a little attention, too. So let’s take a look at Stretch and its brand new job.
What is Boston Dynamics’ Stretch robot?
Like we pointed out, Stretch isn’t exactly one of Boston Dynamics’ more popular robots. For example, it doesn’t resemble a canid or humanoid and doesn’t seem to harness the wide range of tricks those bots are capable of performing. However, it does have plenty of practical applications.
Stretch, in short, is a large robotic arm fixed to a mobile base. It’s able to move around and use its arm to pick up and carry objects—including heavy ones. It’s the ability to transport and manipulate those objects that give it an effective advantage for workplaces able to provide tasks for it to complete.
How does Stretch’s technology help it work?
Equipped with the right technology on board, Stretch can accomplish its goals. Its arm has several degrees of free movement range with suction pads. This allows it to grab hold of boxes and objects as heavy as 50 lbs.
Sensors and cameras help it navigate environments while battery power keeps it running through the workday—up to 8 hours, to be exact. You can likely already imagine where a robot like this might be useful, which brings us to our next question.
Who’s giving Stretch its first real job?
According to Boston Dynamics, Stretch will begin working for DHL warehouses. Initially, this will be on a trial basis with the potential to expand opportunities if things work out.
DHL is investing $15 million into Boston Dynamics in exchange for a fleet of Stretch robots. What will they be doing? Stacking pallets and unloading trucks are set to be Stretch’s first assignments, which makes perfect sense given its strengths and capabilities.
With exciting potential comes much to consider
It’s genuinely an exciting and commendable prospect integrating robotics into areas we humans can use more help. It’s a way in which we can go beyond our past limits and reach for bigger and bolder things. However, it’s also important to consider how it may impact society.
There’s increased interest from companies who are suffering from worker shortages. Robots may become a more cost-effective replacement. Yet at a time when the Great Resignation is a serious point of discussion, is that a good thing?
Much of the worker shortages are caused by employees tired of low pay and oftentimes high expectations from employers. While helpful robotics absolutely deserve praise and support, it’s important to make sure we aren’t seeking to alleviate one need by ignoring another.
All-in-all, we’re happy to see that Stretch is finding itself a chance to prove itself. If you’re interested in learning more about this handy robot, you can check out Boston Dynamics’ official website here. Stretch will begin its new adventure with DHL in the spring of this year.
What do you think about Stretch and its new job? Let us know in the comments below!