Boston Dynamics Unveils ‘Handle’ and Targets Warehouse Automation Market
Updated: Feb 24
Boston Dynamics have just unveiled the latest in a long line of videos showing off what they can get their robots to do. In the video a pair of their ‘Handle” robots can be seen diligently moving boxes from one pallet to another and also from a pallet to a conveyor (depalletizing). The robots are different to the classic notion of what a robot should look like. They are bi-pedal in nature but have wheels for feet and balance using counterweights. At first glance, the robot seems to resemble an ostrich with a long neck which is actually an arm at the end of which, a gripper is attached. This allows for both great agility (they can turn 360 degrees on the spot) and speed. The company said that the robots could carry boxes up to 15kg (33 pounds) in weight, but in the video, they are carrying 5kg (11 pound) boxes. What is different about this robot is that Boston Dynamics wants to commercialize this robot and sell it into the warehouse automation market. To this end, the company also announced the acquisition of Silicon Valley start-up Kinema Systems which is a specialist in deep-learning based machine vision. Boston Dynamics have said that the robots could work even faster than they are in the video, the biggest obstacle to this is the speed at which they can process the world around them - Kinema will speed this up. The desire to commercialize the product has no doubt been spurred by SoftBank’s purchase of Boston Dynamics from Google in 2017, the company also wants to begin selling their Spot ‘robot-dog’ sometime in 2019.