Recently, Boston Dynamics shared a video showing Stretch, its commercial robot, working in a DHL Supply Chain warehouse. Stretch can be seen unloading containers from a truck.
In a first, DHL Supply Chain has become the first company to deploy a Stretch robot for unloading trucks. The world’s biggest logistics company was among the first customers including Gap and H&M of the Boston Dynamics robot. In January last year, DHL placed an order for $15 million worth of Stretch robots to further automate warehouses in North America, with deliveries promised over the next three years.
Let’s Talk about Boston Dynamics’ Stretch
Stretch is a portable robot that unloads trailers and containers. At a time, the robot can handle packages weighing up to 50 lbs., even the ones with complicated forms, with its strong bespoke vacuum gripper. With its computer vision technology, the robot can identify boxes easily and without any pre-programming. Without any prior knowledge of a box’s shape and pre-programmed SKU numbers, the robot can sort boxes. Stretch makes all decisions in real-time.
Boston Dynamics introduced the next generation of Handle, Stretch, in 2017. Despite not having legs, Stretch has an omnidirectional moveable base with four independently moving wheels. On a single charge, the robot can operate for up to 16 hours. Stretch can work autonomously through complex situations like mixed stacking configurations and recovering fallen boxes.
Reportedly, Stretch’s speed exceeded the manual approach in all tested environments. DHL believes unloading boxes is a physically demanding work process and by automating this process skilled labor can focus on value-add, strategic tasks in other areas of the warehouse.
Sally Miller, CIO, of DHL Supply Chain North America, said, “Through our accelerated digitization strategy, we continue to innovate and find creative solutions for today’s supply chain challenges.