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Boston Dynamics gives new powers to truck-unloading robot

Boston Dynamics says it has introduced “a major advancement” in its robotic truck-unloading system.

The system, which is built around Boston Dynamics’ Stretch robot, can now pick and place multiple boxes at the same time – “currently up to four at once”.

The company calls this new feature “multipick”.

Containers are often filled with thousands of boxes, so enabling Stretch to move multiple boxes instead of one with a single swing of the arm would result in significantly higher productivity.

In a blog post on Boston Dynamics’ website, Sam Shaw, a roboticist and the multipick technical lead, and Grant Aylward, a product manager for warehouse robotics, says the new multipick functionality of the robot does not have to be separately activated.

“Operators don’t need to do anything to activate multipick, since the feature is now integrated into the robot’s behavior,” writes Shaw. “They simply drive the robot into place and set the robot to start as usual.”

SHaw adds: “Multipick leverages Stretch’s core grasping algorithms, the ones used for picking and placing single boxes.

“As the team continues to develop that technology, multipick will benefit from those advances as well. And as we plan to expand the ways Stretch works further into the warehouse, multipick will be contributing value.”

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