March 29, 2019

Boston Dynamics builds dinosaur-shaped robots for your DC

Jurassic "Handle" robots combine wheels and grippers for stacking boxes.

By DC Velocity Staff

Handle robotThe Massachusetts tech vendor Boston Dynamics has become a social media darling with videos that show its robots completing amazing feats like a humanoid flipping backwards or a canine walking down stairs.

Now the firm has launched a robot called "Handle" that combines legs and wheels in a platform the Waltham, Mass.-based company says is a perfect fit for warehouse work. A video posted Thursday shows a pair of Handle-bots maneuvering through warehouse racks as they stack cardboard boxes on pallets and then place them on conveyors.

While the machines appear to complete the tasks efficiently, they also bear a somewhat menacing appearance—picture a six-foot tall, 230-pound dinosaur prowling through your DC. Online comments also compare the critters to an ostrich and a "Segway bird," in reference to the self-balancing scooter.

Boston Dynamics says the Handle-bots are capable of complex work like autonomously performing mixed SKU pallet building and depalletizing. Strong enough to handle boxes up to 33 pounds, the units use an on-board vision system to track marked pallets for navigation and to find individual boxes for grasping and placing. Handle robots are even able to use a "force control" feature to nestle each box up against its neighbors as it stacks boxes on pallets.

For a full demonstration, the company plans to operate the bots on the show floor at the ProMat material handling trade show in Chicago April 8-11, Boston Dynamics said.

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