In June 2020, Boston Dynamics began selling its first commercial robot: Spot.
This is an important moment for the company. For most of its 30-year history, Boston Dynamics has been focused on research and development. Initially, Boston Dynamics received substantial funding from the US military and DARPA. Later, it received funding from big-name owners including Google, SoftBank, and most recently Hyundai. All these companies are trying to guide robot manufacturers on the road to commercialization, and Boston Dynamics has finally achieved this goal.
“I expect that we will become a serial manufacturer of new robots with advanced capabilities. I think we will build a new robot for a new industry every three to five years,” said Robert Platt, CEO of Boston Dynamics.
But for now, Boston Dynamics is focusing on the inspection and warehousing industries with its robots Spot and Stretch.
“Spot’s next big industry is indeed in this market that we call industrial sensing or dynamic sensing. In this market, we let robots move around in manufacturing plants, chemical plants, utilities, facilities, etc., and use them. Zack Jackowski, the lead engineer for the robot collection of Spot products, said. “It’s really interesting because once you start getting this kind of highly repeatable, high-quality data, you can start to understand these facilities and their efficiency in new ways. “
The Spot robot of Boston Dynamics is inspected at the National Grid substation in Massachusetts.
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So far, Spot has been used for inspections on construction sites, oil rigs, and nuclear power plants, to check the vital signs of Covid-19 patients in hospitals, and even remind people to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Boston Dynamics said that it has sold hundreds of Spot robots so far, and the cost of entry-level robots is about $75,000.
The company’s other commercial robot, Stretch, focuses on the warehouse market.
“We believe that Stretch is ultimately a general purpose box-moving machine that can be used anywhere in the warehouse,” Playter said. “Approximately 800 million containers are shipped around the world every year. Many of them are filled with boxes. In the United States, there may be trillions of boxes that need to be manually loaded and unloaded every year. This is a difficult job. This is a mountain that must be moved. The material. Stretching is a really powerful tool that can help people move the material.”
Stretching consists of several different parts. The robot uses the mobile base to move in a small space and climb up the loading ramp. Arms, grippers, vision cameras and sensors enable the robot to recognize and process a variety of different objects. Initially, robots will be used for loading and unloading trucks.
Boston Dynamics said it expects Stretch to go on sale next year, but it will not provide a price point. Customers can also choose to only purchase computer vision software that supports Stretch, which Boston Dynamics calls Pick. The company said it is working with some early adopters to test the robot, but will not disclose who these partners are.
Check out the video to learn more about Boston Dynamics’ history and the company’s plans to transform from research and development to commercialization.