The big picture: Boston Dynamics arguably couldn't have picked a better time to enter the logistics industry. In the wake of the pandemic, e-commerce is more popular than ever, and some warehouses are struggling to keep up with demand. Stretch could help traditional warehouse operators be more efficient and enhance safety. Furthermore, it doesn't require any costly installation of fixed infrastructure.
Stretch is a warehouse-focused robot built for productivity. The base allows it to travel in any direction, go around obstacles and even navigate ramps, and it's small enough to fit anywhere that a standard pallet can. The battery provides enough juice for a "full shift," although it can also be plugged into shore power for continuous operation.
A robotic arm with seven degrees of freedom sits on top of the base, and can stretch to reach across a truck or pallet. A smart gripper on the end of the arm is able to pick up a variety of boxes and shrink-wrapped cases while an array of sensors and cameras helps everything run autonomously.
Boston Dynamics is actively searching for customers to trial Stretch ahead of its commercial deployment in 2020. Interested parties can sign up for the early adopter program over on the company's website. No word yet on a firm launch date or cost structure.